By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, South Australia
Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) has already started his preparations for the 2008 Tour de France after taking a short end of season break. The Australian returned to the bike several weeks ago to begin building a rhythm aimed at the French Grand Tour and the Beijing Olympics. The 2007 Tour runner-up spent Friday testing wheels for next season in Adelaide before claiming three awards at that evening's Cycling Australia awards – including the prestigious Sir Hubert Opperman Trophy.
"All the celebrations are well and truly over now, the only thing I'm thinking of now is getting ready for that race in July in France, then China," said the determined former mountain biker. "The longest ride so far has been 130 kilometres, so pretty decent training. It's getting from the 'just going for a nice ride' to the 'starting to make you tired' stage."
Evans has been back in training mode for three weeks, with the newly crowned ProTour champion keen on going one better at next year's French Grand Tour. "It's normal for me, it's kind of early for a Tour rider, but it's normal for me," added Evans of his return to training.
While Evans' coach is currently in Australia on a business trip, the Predictor-Lotto rider hasn't done any structured training with the Italian. "Our structure is a little bit different, we speak by phone and meet occasionally, but it's mostly by fax and e-mail all the communication," he said. "I have a pretty good idea of what I've got to do and he just puts in some structure to that."
Despite his stellar season in 2007, Evans doesn't feel any additional pressure heading into 2008. "No, I get the feeling a few people will be watching but we'll go there do what we can and we'll see," he said.
Evans' accomplishments this season have seen the 30 year-old become a household name throughout his homeland, an impressive feat in a mega sporting year for the Pacific nation which has seen its athletes claim the MotoGP world championship and also claim the men's and women's world surfing crowns. Despite being in increasing demand throughout the year, Evans was appreciative of the respect he's been shown since arriving back in Australia.
"People have certainly been a lot more lenient," he noted. "One of the nice things about having the Tour televised live all day every day is people realise what you do. Our job is quite energy and time consuming, so people have been a lot more lenient in that regard. It's nice to have a little bit of respect, but also a chance to be a human being."
The Predictor-Lotto rider added that the chance to "be a human being" was something he didn't get much throughout '07 season. "Yeah, especially this year with the racing, doing two Grand Tours then going for the ProTour at the end of the year, throw in the trip to China... this year I had to put off a lot of things 'til the end of the season and they've now been put off until the next off season," he said. "I'm doing this, I want to do it 110 percent while I'm doing it, so I'll enjoy it while I can."
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