Cadel Evans gave BMC its first Tour de France yellow jersey on stage 8 of the Tour de France. The Australian finished sixth on the 189-kilometre mountain stage to Morzine-Acoviaz but it was enough to displace Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) from the leader's jersey. Evans now leads Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) by 20 seconds, with double Tour winner, Alberto Contador (Astana) 1:01 back.
Evans didn't have everything his own way on the stage though and had to deal with a crash after just six kilometres of racing.
"I went down pretty hard on my left side. Fortunately, my legs didn't take it. I took it all in my left arm, which is pretty sore. Fortunately, I made it to the finish."
On the final climb to Morzine Evans briefly dangled at the back of the lead group but recovered, doing enough to ensure he would take the maillot jaune into the Tour's first rest day - a repeat from 2008.
Coming into this year's race, many doubted as to whether he had the team to back up his credentials to win a Grand Tour but his BMC were there throughout today's stage, Morabito his last man, only dropping off in the final few kilometres.
"I'd expected to take yellow. Chavanel is not a specialist in the mountains, so it was logical that I take the yellow jersey, even if Chavanel has had amazing Tour. Yellow is (the) reward for amazing work the team has done to date - Ale [Ballan], Kroon, Marcus Burghardt and Steve Morabito today. And riding with George Hincapie in this Tour has been just amazing," he said.
As for race strategy in the coming days, Evans played a somewhat cagey game, aware that his team will shoulder the responsibility of controlling the race before the Pyrenees start. "We'll wait for stages after tomorrow, but I'm happy it's a rest day. We'll think about it and come up with plan but the Pyrenees are very hard, Andy (Schleck) is going well, (Alberto) Contador and Astana (are) really strong, so we'll have to see and decide how to approach the mountains."
Team boss Jim Ochowicz spoke to the press at the finish. "All the riders and staff have done hard work for him all season and up to today, and they'll continue to do so," he said. "For me, this is a personal victory. Going back to my first yellow jersey with Alex Steida, then Steve Bauer, then Sean Yates, and now Cadel Evans. It's great to be in that circle of people."
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