By Gerard Knapp in Adelaide
Speaking at an impromptu press conference held in the Tour Village at the 2008 Tour Down Under in Adelaide after stage five on Saturday, January 26, Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans said he was very close to signing a new contract with the Silence - Lotto team and expected to finalise it early next week.
"Issues are being resolved," he said. "A few little papers have got to pass by some lawyers but it's getting resolved," he said. Apparently the issues are of a commercial nature and unrelated to his cycling program.
While it's been reported in Belgian media that Evans will stay with Silence - Lotto until 2010, the Australian had been keeping his options open and wanted to be finalise some commercial aspects. Evans has also wanted to ensure he would have a team that would help him secure that elusive first place in the Tour de France, and a key signing late last year towards that aim was that of Yaroslav Popovych (see the full roster in the Cyclingnewsteams database ).
He still made a point of the relative strength of other teams at his press conference. He jokingly said that he hoped that Astana would be in this year's Tour de France as there needs to be "a strong team to control the race".
Evans said his training is going to schedule and he's looking forward to resuming racing on February 17 at the Ruta Del Sol. "I haven't raced yet so I won't know (until that time)," he said.
Of his aims for the 2008 season - apart from winning the Tour de France - Evans said that retaining the ProTour overall classification will be difficult, as "they've taken all my favourite races out of it". He said his preferred one-day events like the Fleche-Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour de France (all owned the Amaury Sport Organisation) are no longer part of the ProTour. "I'm glad I won it when I did," he said of his overall classification win in the 2007 ProTour.
The rider will be a guest of honour at a special 'Legends Dinner' that is being held in Adelaide, in conjunction with the Tour Down Under. Evans revealed he had a special guest for the evening. "Yes, my mum's coming along because she wants to meet Big Mig," he said of the major guest-of-honour at the dinner, five-time Tour de France winner, Miguel Indurain, who's been holidaying in Australia since well before the Tour Down Under.