Cadel Evans: 'No Tour would not be end of the World'
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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Cadel Evans: 'No Tour would not be end of the World'

by Ben Atkins at 10:08 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

As Tour de France runner-up in 2007 and 2008, and current World Champion, Cadel Evans ought to be one of the first names on the Tour organisers list. After switching from ProTour Silence-Lotto (now OmegaPharma-Lotto) to Professional Continental BMC Racing in the off-season however, he is in competition with a number of other worthy riders.

Evans and BMC Racing, which now also includes US champion George Hincapie, must wait to see if they are granted a Tour wildcard; something he fully accepts, as he said in an interview with the German news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst (SID).

Since making the switch from mountain biking in 1999, Evans has always ridden for ProTour level teams (Saeco-Cannondale, Mapei-Quick Step, Telekom/T-Mobile and Davitamon/Predictor/Silence-Lotto), until now. BMC Racing, as a Professional Continental team, is a step down in terms of prestige – particularly for the reigning World Champion. It’s a step down that Evans is comfortable with though.

“Of course it's a smaller team,” he conceded. “But less riders means fewer races, and without a ProTour license we are not obliged to participate in every race in the series. So for us it means quality not quantity. I believe in the project and so I’ve signed on for three years.”

Stiff competition for Wild Cards

BMC Racing’s participation in the Tour de France is anything but assured as it is in competition with a number of other second tier teams, which are also laden with star riders. The Cervélo TestTeam has green jersey winner Thor Hushovd as well as Carlos Sastre, the man who beat Evans into second at the 2008 race; Vacansoleil now boasts Romain and Brice Feillu, two of French cycling’s biggest stars; Skil-Shimano rode last year and acquitted itself very well.

This list does not even include Cofidis and Bbox-Bouyges Telecom, two big French former ProTour teams who are already guaranteed invitations to the race. This year, perhaps more than in previous years, there are a lot of high quality teams chasing very few places in the race.

“That [securing a Tour de France invitation] is now our biggest challenge,” Evans admitted. “We'll have to bring in some results in the spring and show that we deserve to participate in the Tour. If we fail in this then it is perfectly acceptable if we are not invited.”

Lance looks ready

Evans’ first race of 2010 was the Tour Down Under, the biggest race in his native Australia, where he finished sixth overall. Also at the race was seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong who, one year into his comeback to the sport, appeared even more ready for the season from last year.

“He has lost muscle mass,” said Evans, “he’s not as broad as last year. He now has another full season in his legs and I think he’ll ride at a higher level than in 2009.”

But can Armstrong, at 38-years-old, get an eighth Tour win?

“Absolutely,” says Evans, “he can definitely win. I mean, he has already won the race seven times so it’s perfectly feasible to get an eighth victory in spite of his break.”

Armstrong’s dominance of the Tour de France has influenced Evans’ career greatly. “Not just mine,” said the World Champion. “Lance has dramatically changed the way riders prepare for the Tour de France. Whoever wants to win the Tour today must coordinate all their training for the race.”

No Tour, no disaster

If BMC Racing is not invited to the Tour de France in 2010 though, the year that Evans will be wearing the rainbow jersey, it will not be a total disaster. “I don't think so,” he said. “In that case I’ll concentrate on the Giro d'Italia, since I’m not just going there for training, but to get some results.

“At least I’ve already challenged [for Tour victory] in 2007 and 2008, two great rides, and was second both times.”

BMC Racing is not the strongest team in the mountains, meaning Evans will likely be short of support on some of the toughest stages. This is not something that worries Evans though.

“I was isolated quickly in the mountains in recent years,” he said, referring to the Tour de France, and also in last year’s Vuelta a Espana for Silence-Lotto when he rode alone against riders with strong teams. “For me that is absolutely nothing to fear.”

Many star riders on teams that are uncertain of Tour de France invitations have had get out clauses written into their contracts, allowing them to seek other teams if an invitation is not forthcoming. This is not something that Evans has.

“No, I have not,” he confirmed. “I have just made a deal with my wife that I'm going on vacation with her if we don’t get to ride the Tour. To get out of that would be impossible!”

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