Australian warns against high expectations
Cadel Evans' motives at the 2013 Giro d'Italia are simple: "ride a good race," the BMC Australian told media before getting underway in Naples on Saturday.
"Whether I'm at the level to be with the best guys here, I really don't know," he admitted. "They come here thinking about this race, preparing for this race for six, seven months, eight months ago - I come here on a few weeks preparation but that's okay. That doesn't mean we can't do a good race."
There are many question marks over what the 36-year-old can produce over the corsa rosa, with even Evans himself riding into the unknown.
"I come here seeing what I can do on a little more than a month's concentration and preparation so I come here with high hopes but not high expectations," he explained.
"I'm very pleased to come back here again. I'm a little bit more, bit better prepared, a lot more experienced and over the next three weeks, we'll see what I can do."
Evans was the first Australian to wear the magia rosa when he took on the Giro for the first time under the Mapei banner in 2002, since then, he has ridden the Italian grand tour only once in 2010 where he won the stage to Montalcino having donned the leader's jersey for a second time earlier on. It's a race that he clearly enjoys.
"The Giro for me is about the passion of the people in the Giro, the passion of the people who come and see the Giro," Evans explained. "It's certainly a very different ambience [to the Tour de France].
"I've only won one stage of the Giro, more than a few second places but the one stage win was pretty special."
Asked to single out the decisive stages over the next three weeks, Evans would not be drawn.
"Every stage is going to be decisive in the Giro," he said. "There's particularly hard mountain stages, particularly hard time trials - a lot can happen even in the transfers in between.
"Most of all I see the stages here, even the time trials are hilly, steep climbs," Evans continued. "There's really not much flat in even the Gabicce Mare time trial. It's going to change things around a bit. A lot of people come here with climbers teams and that makes the flat stages more interesting as well. It's a tough course like the Giro always is, maybe not as extreme as some years but a very, very good quality field."