Tirreno-Adriatico: Defending champ Evans heads powerful BMC Racing Team
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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tirreno-Adriatico: Defending champ Evans heads powerful BMC Racing Team

by VeloNation Press at 7:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tirreno-Adriatico
 

Cadel EvansTour de France winner Cadel Evans begins Tirreno-Adriatico as both the defending champion and as a rider who will use the event to measure his condition relative to last year.

While success is not crucial to his Tour buildup, a strong performance would give him additional assurance that he is on the correct path towards July and his bid to take back-to-back victories in cycling’s biggest event.

“My first goal is to see how my fitness is,” the BMC Racing Team rider said in the buildup to the WorldTour race. “I've worked reasonably well toward it. To repeat last year's result here would be an ultimate gauge of my fitness. But we'll first test my fitness and then see the result.”

Evans has already competed this year, riding part of the Challenge Mallorca and the GP di Lugano. Since then he’s done a block of training in order to keep building his form. His return to action begins today with a 16.9 kilometre time trial, and the lineup of the BMC Racing Team could immediately propel him into a very strong position.

The Australian is a strong time trialist, and will be joined by a formidable lineup including 2011 WorldTour champion Philippe Gilbert, 2008 world champion Alessandro Ballan, multiple Italian TT title holder Marco Pinotti, experienced US veteran George Hincapie, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär and Greg Van Avermaet.

According to assistant director Fabio Baldato, the collective strength of the team means that it will be able to take a multi-faceted approach to the race. The squad may be backing Evans to repeat his previous win, but there will be several riders with chances of winning. “We'll see day-by-day how things go, but we have riders for all stages and we can even go with some attacks,” he explained. “The finish climb on stage 5 might just be one for Marco Pinotti.”

Evans believes that summit finish at Prati di Tivo will be crucial in determining the final outcome of the race. It’s very different to 2011’s demands, where shorter ramps were in evidence.

“It makes it a real climber's race because it's a long climb, maybe 15 kilometers,” he said. “That's going to change the race from last year a lot and be one of the most important days for the general classification.”

Evans’ decision to ride Tirreno-Adriatico could prove to be a wise one. Many riders in Paris-Nice are coming down with illness, with cases of gastroenteritis ruling out big names such as Andy Schleck (RadioShack Nissan) and Evans' team-mate Taylor Phinney.

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