By Anthony Tan
Coming off a solid seventh place at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco a week and a half ago, Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans was considered an outside favourite in yesterday's Flèche Wallonne. But the 28 year-old Australian told Cyclingnews that he's still lacking a little before we'll see him in contention for victory.
"Yeah, yeah, it's been good," he said about his current form, "except my time trial in Pais Vasco was about one minute behind what I had hoped for. Otherwise, it's been good progression, and this is really my first test for the year - this week's to see how I'm really going.
Quizzed on the reasons behind the below-par TT performance at Pais Vasco, where he finished in 27th place at almost a minute and a half behind stage winner José Angel Gomez Marchante, the Saunier Duval-Prodir rider also clinching an eleventh-hour overall victory, Evans seemed to have some idea, but wasn't entirely sure. "I fell a bit behind with my time trial training this year just with travel - going to California, doing some testing and things," he said. "That sometimes takes you away from your training and that; I've only ridden one time trial this year and it just didn't come together... it was disappointing."
Equally, Wednesday's performance in the 70th edition of La Flèche Wallonne was some way off his best, finishing well behind in a group of 14 riders, nine minutes and fifteen seconds off Alejandro Valverde's winning time. However, with Evans' primary focus being the Tour de France, he's still got time on his side. Following Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race he finished fifth in last year, he'll ride two difficult week-long tours to sharpen up his game, beginning next week: "I go to [the Tour de] Romandie after this and [Volta Ciclista a] Catalunya [next], then we'll see how things are going leading into the Tour," said Evans.