By Gregor Brown in Lagnasco, Italy
Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto) will be hunting for a win in his "home" race, the Giro di Lombardia, this Saturday along the lakefront of Como. The Australian, 31, faces a tough challenge at the end of a busy season that included second in the Tour de France.
"I always go there, but with everything else that I have going on throughout the year between the Tour, the Olympics and the Ardennes Classics it is pretty normal that I arrive to Lombardia near dead," said Evans to Cyclingnews as he was preparing for the Giro del Piemonte, which began just ten minutes later.
Evans built his season around trying to win the Tour de France, with special emphasis on the Spring Classics; Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He prefers to end his season with a strong effort in the Giro di Lombardia because the parcours fit his traits the mythic Ghisallo and an undulating finale and because his wife is from the region.
Knee problems have plagued Evans since the end of the Tour de France after he slipped in a nightclub in Paris while celebrating his second place finish; the resulting knee injury compromised his Olympic chances.
"I have been working flat-out since the Olympics to get it [the knee] better, but my training since then has always been compromised. I am going okay for Lombardia and I will see."
Evans faces riders of Damiano Cunego and Samuel Sánchez's calibre Saturday. He may find the season weighing heavy in his legs, but he does not see any other way to arrive for the Race of the falling leaves in better form. "Who else from the [Tour] top ten is here racing here this week? Either I give up going for a result in all the early season races or the Tour," he said with a laugh. "So, I just do the Tour and what is left over for Lombardia is good enough.
"I will go in with a completely relaxed mind. If I can be there competitive that is a bonus, if not then no worries because I have finished the season."
The Coppa Lella Mentasti in Borgomanero, Italy, will be Evans last race of the year. He will go to the two-man time trial with a good cause in mind. "I am doing Borgomanero on Sunday. ... I am going to Nepal the week after so I am raising money for a school there where I sponsor Tibetan children. So, I am doing the Borgomanero time trial to get some money to take to Nepal."
The Giro di Lombardia unofficially concludes the season for many riders. The 242km parcours takes in the Madonna del Ghisallo, a 8.6km climb to the sanctuary dedicated to cyclists.