The opening races of the season are often a case of trial and error, but Cadel Evans (BMC) is hopeful that he is moving in the right direction after a competitive showing on stage 2 of the Tour Down Under on Wednesday.
Evans had to settle for third place in Stirling behind stage winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and overall leader Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), and admitted afterwards that he had opened his sprint too early on the shallow rise to the finish line.
“Yesterday I went too late and got closed in. Today I went too early and got swamped at the finish. Maybe I’ll get it right in the next few days, but it’s promising. There were just a few mistakes in the finale,” Evans said afterwards.
The Australian had briefly tracked a move from Richie Porte (Sky) on the finishing circuit in Stirling, and he felt that he paid for that effort in the finale. “That sort of put me on the limit,” Evans said. “I had [Daryl Impey and Simon Gerrans on my wheel and I kind of led them in well. I don’t know where Diego [Ulissi] came from but obviously with his finish yesterday he was pretty good. I didn’t have the legs and the timing to do it today.”
Evans moves up to 4th overall on general classification, although he conceded a further two seconds in time bonuses to Gerrans on the day and now stands 13 seconds down on the Australian champion, who is backed by a strong Orica-GreenEdge outfit as he chases a record third Tour Down Under victory.
Stage 3 to Campbelltown includes the testing climb of Corkscrew Hill in the finale. The summit is just six kilometres and a quick descent away from the finish line, and could prove an ideal springboard for those with general classification expectations, although Evans was unsure if the climb would prove decisive.
“I don’t know. Those climbs with a long fast descent, it depends a bit on the wind and what the group in front does, and collaboration of the riders in the first and second groups,” he said. “It’s still pretty open but every time you lose seconds on GC, there’s less chance you’re going to be up there.”
In spite of his disappointment at conceding another pair of seconds to Gerrans, Evans declared himself pleased with his condition and with the performance of his BMC team to date. “We’re still getting things together, it’s our first race of the year. They’re coming from Europe and I’m coming from Australia, and so on, so we’re still getting things synchronised,” he said. “They’re going really well and I’m going ok. I’m just missing a bit of timing, it seems.”