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Evans 'auction' finds willing diners

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Cadel Evans (seated - centre)

Cadel Evans (seated - centre) (Image credit: Gerard Knapp)
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Australia's Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto/Bel)

Australia's Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto/Bel) (Image credit: AFP)
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Australia's Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto/Bel)

Australia's Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto/Bel) (Image credit: AFP)

By Gerard Knapp

One of the special attractions at the first night of the Sydney round of the UCI Track World Cup was the auction of dinner with invited VIP, Australian road cyclist Cadel Evans, with profits going to charities set up to assist local cyclists.

The 'dinner with Cadel' was auctioned on EBay and the winning bid of AUS$3,000 came from Ray Burquest, an IT consultant from the firm ThinkSecure. Burquest said he contacted the company's customers to invite them to the evening. While most wanted to be there, they couldn't attend, but Burquest didn't have too much trouble filling the table with colleagues and friends who wanted to share dinner with Evans, the fifth-placed rider in this year's Tour de France.

Dotted around the table were other employees of ThinkSecure, who are also keen cyclists, like Burquest, and they seemed to be having a great time listening to the Tour rider share stories of life in the pro peloton.

Burquest explained that he's a relatively recent convert to the sport - well for a few years now - and how he cycles 40km to and from work each day and takes part in group rides on the weekend, evidence of the sport's growing popularity among educated professionals in English-speaking countries.

Apart from investing in the latest kit, they're also seemingly prepared to put something into the sport, and in this case the proceeds from the auction will go towards the Amy Gillett Foundation, set up in memory of the Australian cyclist tragically killed while training with her AIS team-mates in Germany last July, as well as the new fund that's been set up to assist Australian MTB rider Renee Junga, who was seriously injured at the World MTB Championships in Rotorua, New Zealand, last September.

As for Evans, he was delighted to take part. "When they told me about the idea (to help the cyclists' funds), that's why I came here," he told Cyclingnews. Evans had just returned from a two-week holiday in Tasmania, where he planned to take in some bushwalking and sight-seeing with his wife and family, but some unexpected heavy snowfalls put a stop to their planned adventures.

Riding 'cross on MTB trails

Evans will return to his home in Barwon Heads, Victoria, where he plans to commence his training in preparation for the 2007 season (as well as sort out the carburetor of his '64 Mustang). He will be mostly riding on the road with local groups - "Have you been there? It's too windy to ride solo!" - and will also take to the local national park and do some climbing work, but this will involve riding a cyclo-cross bike on the same trails that he used to ride on his MTB. He said it makes a change and is good training before he starts the serious climbing.

His Belgian team will commence its 2007 season with Tour Down Under in Adelaide, though Evans is not sure at this stage if he will be lining up with the team in January for that race. "We'll see how things go for me," the popular rider said as he signed (yet another) autograph for a young fan. "It's an early start (to the season), and it can stretch it out a bit if I have to be ready by then. We'll see."

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