Evans wakes Silence with a call to arms
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Evans wakes Silence with a call to arms

by Agence France-Presse at 8:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
The sponsor of Cadel Evans' team on the Tour de France is known for products that allow noisy snorers to doze off and enjoy a good night's sleep.

But if there was ever a time the Australian needed his Silence teammates to wake up, it will be on the three upcoming alpine stages that are likely to decide whether he keeps the yellow jersey.

After battling through the Pyrenees with injuries sustained in a crash, Evans managed to get through this last week relatively unscathed, rebuilding strength in an injured shoulder which has left him lop-sided on the bike.

When it comes to the often decisive last climbs on the tough mountain stages, Evans - like most team leaders - can usually finish the job on their own.

Yet his call to arms, ahead of Sunday's 15th stage, has even more resonance, given the impending threat of a CSC team - one of whose riders Frank Schleck trails Evans by just a second - whose team tactics threaten once more to do some serious damage to the overall title contenders.

The 182km stage beginning in Embrun features the potentially hazardous 21km climb over the Col d'Agnel, before a long descent and ride through the valley leads to the foot of an 11.1km climb leading to the summit finish of Prato Nevoso in Italy.

The Col d'Agnel is making its first appearance on the race having been raced, in the other direction, by the Giro d'Italia.

It is there that Evans will be looking for Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych - a former mountain lieutenant of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong - and Italian Dario Cioni to show CSC and his other rivals that he will not be easy pickings. "Obviously we don't have a team full of climbers but Dario Cioni and Yaroslav Popovych have their jobs to do and they've been resting these last few days, making sure that they're following wheels and keeping fresh before we get to the Alps," said Evans.

Evans knows that CSC, who boast a second leader in the shape of Carlos Sastre, sixth overall at 1:28 behind Evans, could be his main threat. Yet the proximity to the yellow jersey of Russia's two-time Tour of Spain winner Denis Menchov, fourth overall at 58secs, is just as real. "CSC has the advantage of numbers but Rabobank don't have nearly as strong a team as they had last year so I think Denis [Menchov] will be a little bit on his own as well. "Normally I'm the sort of rider who progresses through three weeks and gets better towards the end, but so too do others. "Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov are riding for the same result as me and we haven't seen the best of them yet."
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