BMC rider no longer an underdog after impressive first week
Cadel Evans (BMC) ended the first week of the Giro d'Italia in second place overall, 29 seconds down on race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and is now perfectly placed for the real mountain stages that begin in the north-eastern Friuli region after Monday's rest day.
At the start of the Giro d'Italia in Naples, the Australian was happy to be considered an underdog after only deciding to ride the Giro in late March.
While Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) have stuttered and suffered in the rain, Evans seems to have revelled in the tough conditions of the first week. He led home the group of overall contenders on the uphill finish in Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence and was rewarded with the red points jersey.
"I'm well placed now and I'm very satisfied with how things have gone so far," Evans said in his ever improving Italian after pulling on the maglia rossa.
"I want to do well in the Giro. When we decided five or six weeks ago that I was going to ride, I decided I was going to give it everything.
I want to do as well as I can."
Evans' BMC team had a poor team time trial on Ischia island last Sunday but he has made up his losses and gained time on his overall rivals day by day, in the wet and in the individual time trial. Only Nibali has perhaps performed better but the Italian now has to carry the burden and responsibility of the maglia rosa.
Evans' confidence is up but experience of his success and defeat at the Tour de France has taught him to play a long game. He knows there are two more weeks of hard racing still to come and that the overall standings could change yet again very quickly.
"It's been a difficult Giro so far but it's too early to make a call on the race yet," he said.
"Let's wait for the real mountains to start. From Tuesday until the Tre Cime di Lavaredo we've got to tackle so, so many climbs. There's nothing easy about this Giro d'Italia."
"Even today was another hard day. A thunderstorm like that comes on you suddenly and you have to be quick to get ready for the rain and put on your cape. Everyone was pretty nervous and the roads were narrow too. It wasn't an easy day."
Evans and his BMC faced a 300km transfer from Florence to the northeast of Italy for Monday's rest day. He will no doubt ride a little on Monday morning but is keen to rest up after a testing but rewarding first week of racing.
"If I could, I'd stay in bed all day," he joked. "Like everyone, I need to rest and recover after this first part of the race."