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Evans says teamwork critical to Australia's chances
The attention of the cycling public now turns to the elite men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Geelong, Australia, and defending champion Cadel Evans believes his team's preparations will stand it in good stead tomorrow.
Evans says the team's experience in previous world titles will serve it well, adding that the form of some key riders is strong after spending the last fortnight in the national capital of Canberra.
"We had pretty good training there [in Canberra] this week and I think staying away from here [Geelong] has been better; our job is to come here and race our bikes, not for public relations things. That's why I do events like Amy's Ride when you have time to deal with people," Evans told reporters ahead of Sunday's race.
Whilst the team has stayed in Canberra for training, most of its riders won't see the finished course until tomorrow's 260km event. Evans isn't worried about that however, explaining that everyone in the nine-man squad had seen the parcours at some stage in the last year.
"As far as seeing the course, everyone came and rode it in January. Simon Gerrans has probably ridden it the most, most recently. He was on it two weeks ago - I don't even think the bridge was open then," said Evans.
As far as the form of his teammates is concerned, the 33-year-old was upbeat, with several riders impressing him during the squad's training sessions.
"A couple of the guys are going really, really good - I won't say who right now. We had a pretty hard ride on Wednesday and they were going surprisingly well, which was nice to see," he explained.
"I think we've got a good group, especially after the result last year - we've proven we can win it. We're going in with that mentality and whether we can win on the day, we'll have to wait to find out that one.
"I think we're going to have a couple of guys who could be there in the finale to really play our cards - that's looking good at this stage. If everyone can act in the best interests of the team, which most of the guys have shown in past world championships or Olympics that they can and will do that, that's probably the most important thing for us," he added.
There's also the appearance of Evans' personal trainer Also Sassi at the world championships - the former Mapei manager is seriously ill and the Australian says it will add another element to his ride in tomorrow's race.
"Having him [Sassi] here will be pretty special - we've been working together since 2002; he has four untreatable tumours in his brain and for him to just make the trip out here was pretty special.
"He's a big part of Mapei and that company is a sponsor and supporter of the world championships. He was also here for the anti-doping conference - he wanted to be there and make a speech and have his opinion heard."