In building his season around the Giro d’Italia, Cadel Evans (BMC) is looking to settle an account opened in 2002. Twelve years ago, in his very first grand tour appearance, the Australian rode into the pink jersey at Corvara only to lose 17 minutes on the road to Folgaria the following day.
Roberto Damiani – currently a directeur sportif at UnitedHealthcare – was in the team car for Mapei at that Giro. The Italian squad had started the race with Stefano Garzelli as the designated leader and when he left after returning a positive test for probenicid, it seemed as though their overall hopes had disappeared.
Evans, however, stood up to the plate in the final week, and divested Jens Heppner of the maglia rosa on the tappone to Corvara. Just five days from the finish in Milan, the then 25-year-old was on the brink of a surprise success, only to crack dramatically the following day and finish the race in 14th place overall.
"It was the first Giro for Cadel and after Garzelli left, he took the responsibility," Damiani told Cyclingnews. "He was a little bit tired because it was a long season. Near the end, he took the pink jersey but the day after we saw the inexperience and youth of Cadel."
To Damiani's mind, Evans' collapse was not, however, due to any tactical error, but simply because he had never been faced with the physical demands of a three-week tour before that Giro. "It wasn't a big error. A lot of people said that he didn't eat properly and blah, blah, blah but really in the end it was only because he was tired and he was young," he said.
Evans has come close at the Giro since – he finished 5th in 2010 and 3rd last year – but this season is the first time that he has built his entire season around the Giro. Though now 37 years of age, Evans showed his form by landing victory at the Giro del Trentino last month and Damiani believes that he has the ability to finish on the podium at the very least in this corsa rosa.
In this video, Damiani assesses Evans’ chances and points to next week’s Barolo time trial as a crucial rendezvous for the Australian.
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