First time Tour rider Cadel Evans finished 16th on today's stage, 8'47 behind George Hincapie. He started the day 12th overall and improved a place in the general classification, inching ever closer to a slot in the top ten. Indeed that would have been possible today had he succeeded in taking time out of Christophe Moreau.
"It was real hard out there," he told Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow. "I'm just a bit disappointed that Moreau came back. He has been suffering like hell over the past few days, suffering and suffering and suffering."
"Armstrong attacked on the decent and Moreau left this huge gap. Then no-one would chase because we all have to save something for the climbs or our own GC or whatever. Moreau wouldn't chase, even though he was the one who left the gap and it was his responsibility. He then attacked before the final climb; don't ask me how, he's been yo-yoing all week."
"I'm a little disappointed, but if you are not climbing with the big boys, then that's the way things go. It was super-hard out there - I can't think of a time in the stage where I was not suffering."
When asked if he is still aiming for a place in the top ten, the Aussie was a bit non-committal. "I will have to look at the results. That was why I was disappointed that Moreau was able to beat me. I was in front of him, he was dropped and I thought that would get me into the top 10."
"That said, I'm happy with the way I rode. I didn't have enough energy to do any more. I used all I had and I'm really happy this stage is over. You know, the Tour is by far and away the hardest race I've ever done. It's the most amount of suffering I've ever been through - it's hard, hard, hard."
Evans says that he's been gauging his effort when possible. "My level seems to be between fifth and 12th, so I have to limit myself so I can have something left at the end."
"I think a lot of people forgot what I did. This is my first full year on the road (without interruptions) and before that. I had two bad years through injury and stuff . People don't seem to have much of a long-term memory. But I'm finally getting back to my level and starting to show what I can do in a Tour. For my first year it's been pretty good."
Evan's solid ride has prompted Davitamon-Lotto directeur sportif Mark Sergeant to say that they plan to build a team to give a bit more support. Evans is happy with the suggestion. "That would be good. This is a sprinters team. People don't see how much our team has been doing on the front. The TV mainly shows the breakaways but our guys have been on the front for 100 kms most days. So you can't expect them to have much left to help me. They do everything they can."