Cadel Evans (BMC) was close to tears when he pulled on the yellow jersey at the Tour de France and he became emotional again during the press conference when he remembered his former coach Aldo Sassi.
Sassi helped Evans with his transformation from successful mountain biker to grand tour rider, and always believed he could one day win the Tour de France. The Italian coach died from a brain tumor in December.
Evans was almost in tears as he wished that Sassi could have been present in Grenoble to see him take the yellow jersey.
"It was Aldo Sassi who believed in me. He often believed in me more than I did. It would have been nice for him to be here today," he said.
"When I won the Worlds in Mendrisio it was six kilometers from his house. It was a beautiful day with Aldo there and Dottore Squinzi (of the Mapei company). He said to me: 'I'm sure you can win a grand tour and possible the biggest of them all, the Tour de France'. For him to be here now would be quite something."
During the press conference, Evans talked about the difficulties he had faced during his career and during this year's battle for the yellow jersey against the Schleck bothers, Alberto Contador and Thomas Voeckler. He also praised his BMC teammates and staff for their diligent preparation and constant support.
Australian public holiday
Evans was informed of the calls for a public holiday in Australia to celebrate his Tour de France victory and that the mayor of Geelong has called for him to be knighted.
He admitted he could hardly remember when a national holiday was held to celebrate Australia's victory in the America's Cup sailing competition in 1983, but seemed surprised that his battle to win the Tour de France had sparked so much attention in Australia and around the world.
"If it's OK for the economy, its fine by me," he said. "I won’t enter into the politics of it because it's been a nice day so far.
"I've been concentrated, but I hope all of Australia has been enjoying watching so far. It's hard to understand what's going on but I hope to do that when we get on the Champs Elysees on Sunday."
Evans was asked two questions about doping but as often in the past, he preferred not to give detailed answers.
When asked if the fight against doping in recent years had lead to him being able to win this year's Tour de France, he said: "I don't think I'm in a position to comment on that."
The press conference ended with a question in French, with the journalist asking him if he thought it was important for a clean rider to have a clear stance and message against doping.
He replied in French: "I think the best thing for me is to show a good example. It's not up to me to comment on what other people think or on general opinion. All I can do is to be a good example."
With that the press conference ended and Evans headed back to the BMC team bus to celebrate with his teammates and staff. On Sunday morning he will ride into Paris to be crowned the first ever Australian winner of the Tour de France.
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