Evans makes season debut in Oman, says he will test his legs on race’s climbing stage
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Evans makes season debut in Oman, says he will test his legs on race’s climbing stage

by Shane Stokes at 11:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Oman
 
Phinney clocks up sixth place on day one, has ‘good feeling’ about race

Cadel EvansStarting what is a very important season for him, former Tour de France race winner Cadel Evans made his 2013 race debut in the Tour of Oman today. The Australian BMC Racing Team rider lined out on the 162 kilometre opening stage of the 2.HC race and finished in the main bunch at the finish at the Sultan Qaboos University.

Speaking afterwards, he said that he was pleased to be once again in action and is motivated for the competitive days ahead. “It was August since I last pinned on a number for serious competition. I am happy to be back racing, to be honest, you start to miss it,” Evans said. “As I had hoped, it was a nice reintroduction to racing, not too intense and good weather and so on. I am happy that I have come here and chosen to restart the season here.

“Overall the race was relatively calm with a tricky final, a little bit dangerous with the wind and so on, but we all managed to stay safe. It was nice to get back with the guys, go through the motions again with the anticipation of the races to come later in the year.”

Evans had a frustrating 2012 season, with victory in the Critérium International being one of the few standout points for him. He was below his normal level for much of the year and had to be content with seventh overall in the Tour de France; not the title defence he had wished for.

He eventually discovered he had been suffering a low grade infection and ended his season early.

Many months later, he’s moving again and believes that he should be on course for a better year. He’s clear on what he wants from Oman, setting modest targets, but also hoping to show himself on the stage to the top of Green Mountain. If he can do something there, it will be a good confidence booster. If not, he said that he won’t panic.

“Get the legs going, get the legs up to race speed,” he said, listing his main target. “From there, maybe I will have an opportunity to have a little try on the hilltop finish. I am not going to put any big expectations on myself, but of course in any race I always try…what place that is for we will see on the day.”

Phinney satisfied with sixth, will seize opportunities:

Taylor PhinneyHis young BMC Racing team-mate Taylor Phinney has already got several competitive days under his belt this year and was third overall in last week’s Tour of Qatar. He was in the mix again today, netting sixth in a big bunch gallop led home by Marcel Kittel (Argos Shimano).

The young American would love a win, of course, but said that he is content for now to be building experience for the future.

“The final was all right. I am just kind of learning more and more every time I mix it up in the sprint. I am able to stay a lot more calm and collected as it starts to get hectic,” he said. “That was something I didn’t have last year, so it is a good sign.”

Phinney said that team-mates Michael Schar and Greg Van Avermaet helped him by keeping him out of the wind until close to the finish. He then tagged on to the other sprinters’ trains and worked his way into position.

“I like to mix it up a bit and be up there. I am looking forward to the next couple of stages with some harder racing – today was pretty relaxed,” he said.

Flat and fast and with a time trial stage, the Tour of Qatar was well suited to his characteristics. Oman is a much hillier race and lacks the race against the clock that would have handed him an opportunity for a stage win. As a result Phinney accepts that others on the team are better positioned to achieve big results in Oman, but nevertheless hopes to do something himself.

“We set this race up with two big hitters, Cadel [Evans] and Philippe [Gilbert], and also this is a race that is good for a guy like Greg [Van Avermaet] as well. For me, I’ll fit into whatever role I need to play. When I have a chance to go for the sprint like today I will do that,” he said.

“Even a stage like tomorrow or stage three can be good for all of us to be up there and really make the race. We have a strong team, we are really motivated, and it is going to be a good Tour of Oman – I have a good feeling about it.”

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