Looking back, Cadel Evans says he probably ought to have been suspicious of Lance Armstrong's performances. Things have changed since then, though, the BMC rider said, with a major “change in mentality in cycling.” The 2011 Tour de France winner is looking forward to a Tour in 2013 with a course which will favour him.
“I always said that not only was he the best Tour rider but he also had the best Tour team in history,” Evans told the Australian Weekend Financial Review. “But the fact that all of the riders in that team performed at such a high level during the crucial moments was always, well . . .”
Evans too has had to face rumours of doping. “As a clean athlete and to be accused of being a drug cheat, personally it’s very offensive and very hard to take. Maybe those people have a thing or two to learn about commitment, hard work, dedication and how far people can go with natural ability.”
The Armstrong case will have a preventative effect, he said. “If someone is thinking they can take drugs as a sports person, they are going to be very scared of this whole affair because 15 years after they have won their race and passed their drug test they know it is possible they can be uncovered.
“There has been such a change in mentality in cycling now, and I think we have left that behind us, and that’s why I say to cycling fans, let’s not lose faith.”
Evans suffered from health problems throughout the year and is still facing immunology tests, but was philosophical about his seventh place finish this year. “I’ve got a chance to win the Tour next year and the year after.”
This year's Tour may have been perfect for winner Bradley Wiggins, but Evans says that next year will be different, and should be good for him again. “The 2012 course really favoured [Wiggins'] team, and Team Sky had a team perfectly suited to that course. Next year I think it will be more like the 2011 one, where it is more likely decided in the final week.”