Evans encouraged by early season form in Santos Tour Down Under as build-up for Giro continues on track
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Evans encouraged by early season form in Santos Tour Down Under as build-up for Giro continues on track

by Shane Stokes at 8:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
BMC Racing Team rider shrugs off questions about retirement, suggests he’ll likely ride race again

Cadel EvansHe came to the Santos Tour Down Under with the race primarily acting as part of his buildup for the Giro d’Italia, and he leaves with a number of good performances to his credit. A stage win, two days in the ochre leader’s jersey and second overall, just one second behind the winner Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge); although he would have liked to have taken the general classification, Cadel Evans sees the positives in the performance.

“We came here with the core group for the Giro and we are building towards May. That is really our number one goal of the year. Of course, we'd prefer to win and that's what we are hard-wired to do,” he said after today’s final stage. “But to be second by one second shows we are at a good starting point to work toward May.”

Evans looked good for the overall victory until the final climb of Willunga Hill yesterday, when he chased hard when Richie Porte (Sky) attacked for the stage win, was ultimately caught by Gerrans and Diego Ulissi (Lampre Merida), gave another dig inside the final kilometre to try to shake them off, but was then distanced in the uphill sprint to the line.

The gap plus the time bonus picked up by Gerrans for third saw him slip out of the jersey by one second; it’s agonisingly close, so would he have done anything else differently?

“I was surprised that Ulissi committed his own chances for a stage win towards ride in what was a favourable race for Simon,” he said, referring to how the stage end played out. “In the end it was only one second. It is very easy to say that afterwards [that tactics should have been different], we have had 24 hours to reflect on that now, but I only had a few seconds to make my decision when I did at the time.

“I took my best judgement there. Like I said, I got most of myself out on the road and that is what you have to be satisfied with it.

“As I said a few days ago, in a six-day race, two days were suited to me and four days were suited to Orica-GreenEdge. So to be second by one second is not such a bad performance.”

Evans finished third overall in last year’s Giro d’Italia. He’s now 36 years of age and, with his BMC Racing Team deciding that Tejay van Garderen should be its leader for the Tour de France, has made the Italian race his prime goal of the season.

His performance in the Santos Tour Down Under shows that his buildup is on track and, while there are still several months to go until the Giro, he is satisfied with things thus far.

“Definitely the podium is not too unrealistic, but we still have some steps to take,” he said, speaking of a Giro which he is hoping to win. “But I’d consider now we are right. This week we were up against the number one team in the world for this event, and to come just one second in arrears of them is not so far off the mark.”

Evans received plenty of support from the fans this week and appears to have enjoyed the experience. He paid credit to them, saying that the supporters really made the ambience of the race with the way they backed and encouraged the riders.

Cadel Evans“I am so pleased and proud of us as a country and as a cycling nation and also as a sporting nation to see this event and what the ambience is,” he said.

And there is, it seems, a good chance that he will compete in the event again. While he will be 37 next month, he made clear that he could well be still racing in twelve months time.

“If Adelaide will have me back, don’t be so sure that it will be my last Tour Down Under,” he said, when asked about possible retirement. “We are all getting older, but I wouldn’t say I am too hold to race and be competitive.

“It was a different Tour Down Under than any I have ridden before and that shows in the performance that I can do.”

Indeed, his runner-up slot was his best result out of his eight participations, and surpasses his previous best of fourth overall in 2002. That shows that he is still on top of his game and, morale boosted by both the result and also the feedback he got from the crowds, he could well be back for at least one more Santos Tour Down Under.

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