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World champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) after the finish of stage three.
Ardennes Classics important for world champ and teammates
UCI road race world champion Cadel Evans says he'll be a happy helper for BMC Racing teammate Karsten Kroon in this year's edition of Amstel Gold Race, which also serves as vital preparation for the Australian's Giro d'Italia campaign.
Speaking after his sixth place overall at last weekend's Critérium International, Evans admitted that his form in the time trial needs to improve, although he's not unhappy with his riding overall at the French event.
"Eighth in the stage and slipping down to sixth overall is not normally the way I like to finish a stage race but it's still early in the year for me, not only in terms of stage races and going for the overall but also time trialling - that was my first time trial for the year," said Evans.
"The bike was good for the first TT; it just takes a bit of time to get used to and it's difficult to simulate 75km/h through a roundabout in training... so that took a little bit of getting used to. It's pretty good - it's not great, but...
"It was a good start but I still have room for improvement in the time trial," added the Australian, whose next race against the clock will be the Giro d'Italia prologue in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on May 8.
BMC Racing's focus will turn to the northern and Ardennes Classics, and it's the latter where Evans will be vital to the chances of Karsten Kroon, the experienced Dutchman who took second in Amstel Gold Race last season and switched from Saxo Bank during the winter.
The world champion won't be going to the hilly Classics where he has traditionally performed well in search of a win, rather using the next period of racing as part of his preparations for May.
"I'm going into a bit of a training phase - more specific training, and time trialing is a part of that," said Evans. "It's all a pretty normal grand tour rider's thing; you ride a fair bit in the mountains, ride a fair bit on your time trial bike and continue progressing... but from now on this is my really important period of work towards the Giro and I switch focus towards that.
"Amongst that I've got the Ardennes Classics as well - I look forward to going there and hopefully being a good help for Karsten. It'd be great to improve on his second place in Amstel [Gold Race] last year and as for Fléche [Wallonne] and Liège [Bastogne - Liège]... we'll see how things are going."