Experienced American George Hincapie has admitted that despite not feeling well at the beginning of Tirreno-Adriatico he has improved throughout the week, a good sign for his Classics aspirations next month.
Speaking after stage six of the race, Hincapie said that while the team has shown itself to be up to the task of contending for overall honours, he started the event struggling for form.
"On a personal note, when I started Tirreno I wasn't feeling very good but I feel a lot better now, which I hope is a sign for the upcoming races," he said.
While Katusha's Mikhail Ignatiev took out the stage to Macerata, BMC Racing has Cadel Evans in third position overall and the team rode accordingly, as Hincapie explained: "Today was very tough from the beginning; we had a guy in the breakaway [Marcus Burghardt], which was part of the team plan and it put the team under a little less pressure.
"We were on very small roads and it was windy all day - our job was to keep Cadel out of trouble and we did a great job of that."
With a log jam at the top of leaderboard, Evans' work is cut out for him to retain and possibly improve his position near the top of the standings. Hincapie indicated that the reigning world champion is taking up that task well.
"All day was a battle for position; we then arrived at the circuits, which we had to do four times with two really steep hills in there and it was quite technical. Cadel did a great job and the whole team worked together very well," he said.
"This week the team should be really proud - we've done a great job and shown we're one of the best teams here."
While Hincapie has his eye on next month's Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, for which this week's racing acts as excellent preparation, Evans' major season objectives take place a month later. The perennial Classics contender wasn't giving anything away regarding his own form, but commented on where he think his Australian teammate sits in his progression towards the year's first Grand Tour.
"We knew Cadel was riding well but Tirreno-Adriatico is such a hard race and the Italians are at 100 percent fitness whereas Cadel isn't right now, so it's great that he's amongst the strongest while not being at 100 percent, which he plans on being for the Giro and hopefully the Tour de France. As far as being third overall, I think it's an awesome ride," he said.