Cadel Evans started this year’s Giro d’Italia to little fan fare, but the 2011 Tour de France champion has ridden a quiet but effective first week in Italy. On stage 7 from San Savlo to Pescara on Friday, the Australian moved from 10th to sixth on GC and now sits within 16 seconds of the maglia rosa, having finished in the main group of favourites that had distanced Bradley Wiggins.
It was performance that merits Evans’ improving form in this year’s race and testament to his experience. While Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali crashed, Evans kept calm and most importantly upright. Stage 8, a 54.8-kilometre time trial will undoubtedly provide a sterner test of the BMC leader’s credentials.
Evans’ teammate, Ivan Santaromita, who finished 25th, stayed with Evans all the way to the finish line. "It was a crazy final with slippery roads and it was full gas," he said. "On the descent, I tried to stay close to Cadel, but it was difficult. Fortunately, we didn't have any crashes."
However at one point Evans was forced to chase the peloton, having had problems with his shoes he dropped back to the team car inside the final 40 kilometres before being paced back.
"It was a real test of our team and our equipment and the guys were really good," he said. "Daniel Oss was good at the start, monitoring the dangerous breakaways, and Danilo Wyss, Steve Morabito and Steve Cummings were always there to keep me out of trouble. Then Santaromita was there in the final in case something went wrong."
Despite Evans’ start to the race he has refused to put pressure on himself. The media circus has centred on Nibali and Wiggins, with defending champion Ryder Hesjedal thrown in for good measure. It’s meant Evans has ridden a different race to the one that secured him a Tour win but on the road to Saltara there will be no hiding place.
"It's a really long and really hard and demanding time trial and we really don't have a point of reference of how I am time trialing compared to the other guys," he said. "I will first of all concentrate on doing my best and, of course if I continue to move up on the general classification, that's optimal."