For the first time in eight years, Australian Cadel Evans will contest the Giro d'Italia, and he's going there to get results. Racing this season with the Professional Continental team BMC Racing Team, Evans is still awaiting word that the team has gained an invitation to any Grand Tour, but is planning his season around both the Giro and the Tour de France.
Speaking at the team's camp in Agoura Hills, California, Evans said that racing back-to-back Grand Tours has served him well in the past - in 2007 he took second in the Tour de France to Alberto Contador then turned around and just missed the podium at the Vuelta a Espana by a slim 10 seconds.
Last year, he had his "worst Tour de France ever", but then placed third in the Vuelta and followed that up with a win in the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Road Championships. The Giro-Tour double, Evans said, is not "completely unconventional thinking in an approach to the Tour. It fits in well with the new team and fits in well with what I'd like to do this year".
Evans has carried his strong late-season form through the winter, and has already come out swinging in the Tour Down Under. His ferocious attack on the Willunga stage not only put the rainbow bands center stage, but also showed a new Cadel Evans: one who seems more relaxed, confident and ready to race more aggressively than ever before. He credits the change more to his new team than his success in Mendrisio, Switzerland last fall.
"Everything has fallen into place in the off-season, the season started off well, and I hope it's a sign of things to come. A new team, no motivation - it puts me in a good mindset for sure. I'm really looking forward to 2010," he said.
His preparation for the Giro d'Italia is still contingent on the team being invited to certain races, but he hopes to race Tirreno-Adriatico, Criterium International and the Ardennes Classics La Flèche Wallonne and Liège - Bastogne - Liège.
"I brought everything forward a bit compared to the past when I've been going for the Tour de France,” he said. “I've always tried to be good for April so in that respect it's not going to change that much."
This year's Giro d'Italia features several daunting mountain stages: stage 15 finishes atop the monstrously steep Zoncolan, stage 16 is a time trial up Plan de Corones, and stage 19 to Aprica over the Mortirolo is a mere warm-up for the epic penultimate stage finishing on Passa del Tonale which passes over the famed Passo di Gavia.
Coming right before the final stage, a time trial in Verona, the Gavia stage is certain to be decisive. "I'm going to ride it in training first just to find out how hard it's going to be,” he said. “There are a few mammoth stages in the Giro, but that's OK. I don't mind those."