"This Giro is so close that anything could happen"
Cadel Evans (BMC) remained clipped into his pedals, leaning against the barriers and gasping for air after crossing the finish line at Montecampione on stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia.
The Australian knows how to dig deep and gave his all to limit his losses to Rigoberto Uran and his other Giro d'Italia rivals on the long climb to Montecampione.
On Saturday Evans managed to gain a few seconds on Uran. Twenty-four hours later he was forced on the defensive and lost 31 seconds, slipping to 1:03 behind the race leader.
Other riders also gained time on him, with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) now third at 1:50 and stage winner Fabio Aru (Astana) moving up to fourth at 2:24. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is a close fifth at only 2:40.
"Today wasn't my best day and I think Uran raced very well, while I probably could have raced a little bit better. But there's not much I can do about that now," Evans said.
"I think as I understand I lost 15 seconds today but that isn’t a lot on a bad day. We'll see what that means. We've still got a lot of difficult days to come. I'm not going to give up for sure. This Giro is so close that anything could happen."
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Fighting with the pure climbers
Evans tired to attack at one point but lost contact when Aru jumped away with three kilometres to go and Uran and Quintana went after him. He then went deep to limit his losses.
The climb to Montecampione had been a battle of strength and tactics between the pure climbers, while Evans prefers more constant, even if harder, pace.
"I don't like the eight watt/kg standing starts after 220 kilometres. I've been taught hard lessons on those kind of climbs," he said.
Evans spoke at the finish line so he can enjoy the third rest day on Monday without any media commitments. He was disappointed with his day but is well aware there are a lot more mountain stages to come before the Giro d'Italia is finally decided and the overall winner is crowned in Trieste next Sunday.
"We've got the Valsugana stage (to the Rifugio Panarotta on Thursday), Val Martello (via the Gavia and Stelvio on Wednesday) and I think the uphill time trial (to Cima Grappa on Friday) is also going to be important. And so will the Zoncolan (on Saturday). I don't know if you have ever been up it but if you have a bad day there, there's nothing you can do about it," he said mentally running through the days stacked up in the final part of the Giro d'Italia.
Just as at the finish in Oropa, perhaps as a sign of pride and ambition, Evans refused to reveal his thoughts on who will emerge to win the Giro d'Italia or if Uran will be able to hold onto the pink jersey all the way to Trieste. He refuses to accept defeat with so many mountains still to climb.
"If I knew I'd be going and putting on some money at the bookies," he joked.