BMC Racing manager John Lelangue is hopeful that the 2009 world champion Cadel Evans will be in contention to defend his title at the Worlds in Geelong, Australia, despite having just come back to racing after fracturing his elbow at the Tour de France two months ago.
At his penultimate race wearing the rainbow jersey, the Grand Prix de Wallonie in Belgium on Wednesday, Evans finished a very respectable third behind Paul Martens (Rabobank) and Riccardo Ricco (Vacansoleil). The more than 200km-long and hilly event was only the third race for Evans after his come-back from injury, and Lelangue confirmed that his rider was very motivated to defend his world title at the big event two weeks from now.
"He lost some time because of his elbow, but Cadel is able to replicate high intensities in training and he has an enormous ability to motivate himself that is very impressive," Lelangue told L'Equipe. "If the same thing had happened to any other rider, I would have said that you can't count on him anymore. But I believe that Cadel will be competitive."
Evans himself was also hopeful that he will be in contention to defend his rainbow jersey in his home country.
"My form is good," he said. "I might not be as fit as last year because of my broken elbow. I was forced to stop cycling for two weeks - stop racing for six - but I still hope that I will be one of the favourites in Melbourne, even if the big favourite is [Philippe] Gilbert."
Evans, a respected spring classics rider as well as Grand Tour contender, won the Flèche Wallonne this year. The Worlds course in Geelong has been described as a Classics course, similar to the Tour of Flanders.
"But it's not always the favourite who wins [the Worlds]," the Australian warned. "I wasn't the big favourite, last year in Mendirisio..."