Sunday key for Evans' Tour de France hopes

Evans has to try on Verbier, says director

Australian Cadel Evans faces one of the Tour de France's most important stages on Sunday in the race to Verbier. He is 3:07 behind the leader in the overall classification, and the mountaintop finish presents an opportunity to change the standings.

"We will shift from the jabs to the big knock-out blows," Silence-Lotto director Roberto Damiani told Cyclingnews. "Cadel, three minutes back, he has to try, even if the climb suits Lance Armstrong."

Evans lost most of his time in the overall classification in the team time trial in Montpellier last week. The Silence-Lotto team finished 2:35 down to stage winner Astana.

Astana controls the top spots of the race two days ahead of Verbier. Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R) leads the race, but Astana is right behind: Alberto Contador at six seconds, Armstrong at eight seconds and Andreas Klöden at 54".

Sunday's stage is 207.5 kilometres long and features the 15.5-kilometre Col des Mosses and the 8.8-kilometre Verbier climb.

"It is a stage that needs to be managed well prior to the final climb up Verbier. Verbier is not very hard, but suits those who have the capacity to spin the gears. I said after the team time trial, which went very bad for us, Evans and Jurgen Van den Broeck have to think carpe diem."

Evans tried to escape on stage nine to Tarbes, but the overall favourites prohibited his group from gaining time. Besides Astana, Evans trails Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream), Fränk and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and defending champion Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam).

However, Evans, who finished second in the Tour de France for the past two years, is prepared well for Sunday. He went with Silence director Hendrik Redant twice in training to view the Verbier climb prior to the Tour. It averages 7.5-percent gradient and tops out at 1468 metres.

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