Off the back of his historic victory at this year's Tour de France, the wave of recognition for Cadel Evans continues to grow in his home country with Cadel Evans voted the athlete Australians would most like to sit next to on a plane.
In a survey conducted by online travel company Expedia on Facebook, more than one in seven said that the BMC star was the sports personality they would most like to buckle up next to. Evans beat out athletes from cricket, AFL, rugby league and union – sports which traditionally dominate the Australian sporting landscape.
Five-time Olympic gold medallist, swimmer Ian Thorpe was next best (13 per cent) while in third place was surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore, who, was voted as the most popular female sports star in the survey, ahead of the likes of Michael Clarke (cricket), Benji Marshall (rugby league) and Harry Kewell (football).
Upon his return to Australia for a brief visit in August, Evans was congratulated by around 25,000 people at a civic reception in Melbourne and was also lauded for his achievements in federal parliament by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Media coverage of Evans and the sport of cycling has reached unprecedented levels in recent months, and has had a profound effect on investment interest in GreenEdge which is scouting a UCI ProTour licence for 2012.
It's a long way from 2008 when an injured Evans finished as runner-up on the podium at the Tour de France for a second time, a period in which the Victorian has gone on record as saying that he felt the Australian public turned against him for "losing the Tour."