Australia's Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto) has received the praise of his peers in the world of professional cycling after taking the Tour de France's yellow leader's jersey on Stage 10. After having a heavy fall on the previous stage, which made the Victorian-based rider feared the worse for his Tour hopes, Evans bounced back on the latest stage to become Australia's first yellow jersey wearer since Robbie McEwen in 2004.
His little team-mate and compatriot McEwen was one of many to praise Evans' achievement. McEwen's own Tour hopes have been largely sacrificed for general classification hope Evans, with the team built around the latter's general classification hopes rather than McEwen's sprint stage ambitions.
"It's just fantastic, especially after yesterday's crash," said McEwen. "But it's a long way still to Paris and what is his lead, one second? Well CSC better help us!
"When I first heard that he could take the lead I thought 'oh no, that means we will be on the front for the next few days'," joked McEwen. "But, only joking, it's just awesome for Cadel and the team."
One of the highest compliments received by last year's Tour runner up came from rival team-manager Bob Stapleton. The Team Columbia owner described Evans' efforts to take the yellow jersey off his own rider Kim Kirchen as heroic.
"Evans rode great," said Stapleton. "For a man that was on the ground yesterday, I thought that was a pretty heroic effort."
For Evans one of the highlights came from the post-stage press conference. While sitting there, the center of the world's sporting media, Evans' first question came from his home town reporter Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow.
"You travel all the way from Australia, 16,000 kilometres and you get the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and you get in front of the world media and the first question is asked by the newspaper from my hometown," he smiled.
The former mountain biker admitted to being overwhelmed with emotion while collection the yellow jersey for the first time. Evans holds the famed jersey by the narrowest of margins, sitting just one second behind Fränk Schleck (Team CSC-Saxo Bank).
"I just can't believe it," said Evans. "This sport can be so cruel and perhaps, because of that, when it's a little bit less cruel, it can be quite rewarding. You know I've put so much into the sport and, you know, what you put in you can get back out. It's been a long time coming.
"And then to see the Aussie kangaroo and the Aussie flags all there, well that's kind of nice too," he added.
The Geelong, Victoria based Evans thanked his local community for its support. The rider hopes his taking the yellow jersey gives his supporters something to be proud of.
"I moved to this spot about an hour out of Melbourne about three years ago and I get a lot of support from the region," he said. "I even got a message from the Mayor of Geelong this morning hoping I was OK after the crash and wishing me good luck for today. I hope this is something for them to be proud of after winning the premiership (Australian football) last year."
Looking beyond today's rest day, Evans targeted Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Carlos Sastre (Team CSC-Saxo Bank) as his proven rivals for the remaining stages.
"I guess I'll have to look at the general classification first," said Evans. "Obviously Schleck is the closest at - what? One second? I guess he is first threat. Where is Menchov now [he is told Menchov is 57 seconds back - reporter) and Kohl would be fourth, then third is Sastre? [no fifth, Vande Velde is third at 38 seconds - reporter] gee really? He has ridden well. But the proven performers over the three weeks are Menchov and Sastre."
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