Starting the seven-day Tirreno-Adriatico as a candidate for the general classification, it quickly became clear Cadel Evans (BMC) would not be taking home another trident trophy like the one he secured in 2011. Rounding the week in 22nd overall, the Australian admitted he simply was not at the level of the general classification riders while adding his victory in 2011 came under far better weather conditions and on a course with shorter climbs.
Evans begun his season at the Tour of Oman and explained that his first race in 2013 was a very different one to what the peloton endured in Italy. Evans was pleased with his podium-finish at the Omanian race won by Chris Froome (Sky) however, with a 2012 season interrupted by illness and his final race of last year coming in August, he had few expectations coming into his next assignment for 2013.
"I came here with only one race in my legs in the past seven months so in that respect I can't have really high expectations," he said on his team site after completing the final time trial.
"I saw a race with a course that had two really long climbs [which was] different from when I performed well here in 2011. [There were] a lot of top level climbers, every day whether it was a hard course, weather conditions, particularly long [stages], or the level was really high, it did make for a really solid Tirreno. Five days, 1,060km, about 30 hours of racing - and a lot of that in the rain, I think everyone found it pretty hard," he added.
"For me, if you are a little under-performing, well of course it's going to show in these conditions."
Evans appeared a genuine contender after his team finished third in the opening TTT but when the race hit the first mountain test to Prati di Tivo on Stage 4, the BMC leader was dropped with more than 7km remaining. His overall chances were dashed that day with the former Tour de France winner switching to what he had called "training" mode thereafter.
While Tirreno didn't go to plan for Evans he didn't appear to be overly concerned. He planned to take use a few days to recover from a tough week before building back up for the two-day Critérium International and then onto the Ardennes classics - where he is a former winner of Flèche Wallonne.
"This is the real start of the racing. It was a real test here and obviously my progression shows I'm not performing anywhere near where I was in 2011 but I have to take it in perspective with everything else. From here, just go on. After a couple of days here I might give myself a little while to rest. Then Critérium International, continue on from there into the Ardennes and so on.
"We'll have a little look at this, a little analysis of everything and then from that analysis plan things forward through until the next period with the Ardennes..."