The London Olympic road course was never going to suit Cadel Evans’ strengths. Last year's Tour de France champion was not heading to London in search of a personal result, and instead, his role was to ride the 250km race in support of his team. After a disappointing end to his Tour title defence, Evans was almost a late withdrawal from the Games. He had appeared to be struggling with some form of illness toward the end of the Tour but the true extent is not known. This weekend, he decided, with input from doctors, to sit out the Olympic time trial.
"This year hasn't gone as we had anticipated, as I wanted," Evans told The Age.
"A few things have happened with my health this year that put me back before the Tour, which put me back during the Tour and put me back coming into here," he said.
In the end, Evans arrived in London with the plan of riding both the road race and the following Wednesday’s time trial. He lined up in the road race in support of the team’s best medal hope, Matt Goss. With a planned bunch sprint, Evans was charged with looking after the sprinter throughout the race, while Simon Gerrans was to look for opportunities toward the last of the Box Hill circuits.
Unfortunately for the Australians, neither of these plans came to fruition. Stuart O’Grady saved the day by entering the early break and rode for more than 230km off the front of the peloton to a fine sixth place. It is to be his final Olympic participation.
With Evans’ health a lingering concern for himself and his team, it was initially uncertain whether he would be able to line up for the 44km individual time trial on Wednesday.
Soon after the road race, he said, "I want to talk to the team and see where we are. We have just finished - I have to have a moment to reflect. I am still just trying to get together what happened in the race today in front and then look ahead. Normally, yeah [I'd race], let's recover from this one, get a good analysis of this one and then and then go for the next one."
Following further medical consultation after the Olympic road race, Evans cancelled plans to race the Olympic time trial. "Cadel Evans will not compete in the men's individual time-trial event. He has been seen by the cycling doctor Dr Mark Fisher and Olympic team medical director, Dr Peter Baquie, and they have confirmed he is fatigued and will not recover in time for Wednesday," read a statement from the Australia Olympic Committee according to The Guardian.
No one will replace Evans, so Michael Rogers will be Australia's sole representative in the time trial.