Cadel Evans is looking to become the oldest man since 1923 to win the Tour de France, and BMC Racing Team sport director John Lelangue is giving him an easy run-up to the race. But not because of his “advanced” age of 34. “I would do the same for a guy if he was 28.”
The plan is for Evans to have only 32 to 35 days of racing in his legs by the time he starts the Tour on July 2. "The start of the season is a really light program so he's fresh when he gets to the Tour de France,” Lelangue told Australian newspaper The Advertiser.
"The most important thing is he comes to the Tour de France with a lot of energy."
Evans turned 34 on Valentine's Day. The oldest winner of the Tour was Firmin Lambot, who won it at age 36 in 1922. The next year Henri Pellisar won at the age of 34 years and six months. In comparison, Lance Armstrong (2005) and Carlos Sastre (2008) were both 33 when they won.
Lelangue does not see Evans as slowing down in old age. “He's like a good bottle of wine. Cadel is always motivated and in perfect shape, so expect to see him at this level for a couple of years.”
After attending the team training camp in January, Evans has trained on his own at his home in Switzerland. His first race will be this week, the Giro di Friuli in Italy on March 3. He will then take on such races as the Tour of Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie, before altitude training in May and the Criterium du Dauphine in June.
Evans will be supported by a number of new teammates this year, including Amael Moinard and Ivan Santaromita in the mountains, and Manuel Quinziato and Greg Van Avermaet. The 2009 World Champion will “always be surrounded by a really strong team,” Lelangue said.
Veteran American George Hincapie will also be there for his Australian teammate. Hincapie will first focus on the Spring Classics, but afterwards “all my focus will go into helping Cadel at least make the podium of the Tour de France," he told SBS.
"I think Cadel has a great shot this year. Last year he was fit from January to October. I'm excited to see him start up a bit later this year and really focusing on the Tour de France which will allow him to arrive fresh and 100 per cent fit."