Cadel Evans went so hard on stage 16 that he said after the finish that he couldn't remember his middle name. [It's 'Lee' - Trivia ed.] The tactic paid off, however, with the Davitamon Lotto rider finishing fourth on the stage and, more importantly, moving up four places to seventh overall.
"This morning I thought it might be an opportunity to get in a break. I didn't know if T-mobile would let me go, but took a chance," he told Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow after the finish.
"The other mountain stages were only for the top GC riders, of which I'm not one this year. It's my first Tour after all. But I saw an opportunity today and you've got to grab them when you can. When you get the chance, you've got to run with it."
"I couldn't see another opportunity where I could take four minutes out of Armstrong. So I had to take my chance today, and I did the last five kms on the front by myself. Obviously I wasn't thinking about the stage. I wasn't thinking about the sprint too much.
When a reporter put it to Evans that today's ride was unusually aggressive for the Australian, he said that he's finally putting some tough times behind him. "It's the old Cadel Evans coming back. I've a lot of emotions today. I've had two bad years and a lot of people have forgotten what sought of rider I am."
"I've always believed in myself and some people really believed in me and I thank them for that. Mark Sargeant, the Davitimon Lotto team, my girlfriend, my family, my really good friends who have always held strong over the last two years. It hasn't been a very good two years for me, but now you've seen the old Cadel come back."
Part of his motivation this morning was to prevent Stuart O'Grady getting points for the green jersey competition, thus helping his team-mate Robbie McEwen to stay in touch. He says there was an element of luck involved, too. "I'd hoped it would work out. It's a good thing I'm sponsored by the Belgian Lottery because it looks like I got the right ticket today. I told the guys in the break to just work with me. It is a long way to Paris and it felt like I was out there for a long time today."
"I wanted to get in the break. We didn't want O'Grady to get any points in the first sprint. I saw the move go and so I joined it and it was the move that stayed away. Freddy was great today. He's not a climber, he's here to do the final 500 metres for Robbie but he's helped me so much. Every time someone's got me to position on the climbs, it's been him. It means a lot that the guys believe in me."
Happy with his place in the top eight, Evans is hoping to ride well all the way to Paris. He's not certain yet how the race against the clock will go, however. "Of course I want to have a good TT. But it's my first Tour and my first third week of a stage race," he said.