Cadel Evans: “Don’t push him he’s a foreigner!”
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Cadel Evans: “Don’t push him he’s a foreigner!”

by Ben Atkins at 10:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
World champion finds that help from the Italian fans is not available to all

cadel evansWorld champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) finished second on yesterday’s stage to the top of Monte Zoncolan. At 10.1km long with and average gradient of 11.9%, with sections as steep as 22%, it is regarded by most as the hardest climb in Italy. Evans himself has his own description of it though.

“Zoncolan is one hard climb!” he said in his daily blog, “Like a 'Mur' in Flanders I suppose.....but for 7km....”

Evans refers to “7km” as the first part of the climb that is relatively ‘easy’, including a section a few hundred metres long that rises at just 3.2%. Once past this point though there is very little respite all the way to the top.

Finishing just 1’19” behind stage winner Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo), Evans acknowledged the strength of the Italian and his team. “Liquigas did the majority of the work,” he said, “to deliver Basso to base of what is maybe not the steepest, but definitely the longest steep climb I have ever done anywhere. And their work paid off. Basso certainly was the strongest on a day where not much else counted.”

The Italian fans, or ‘tifosi’, are famously passionate about the sport – in fact the term ‘tifosi’ comes from the comparison between the fans’ feverish behaviour and that of those suffering from typhus – and they are not averse to offering a helping hand to their favourite riders on a difficult climb. That help is generally pretty partisan though, as Evans was to hear.

“Well a few 'spinge's' (pushes) don't go astray on a really steep one like that. "Don't push him, he's a foreigner" I heard a spectator yell,” he said.

This partisan behaviour is not confined to the ‘tifosi’ though, it is apparently also evident in the peloton. “Not quite as ridiculous as one Italian rider in my team mates group: "Stop pushing the foreigners!" he yells at the spectators,” Evans added.

A helping hand on a tough climb is not always welcome though; especially for those racing to win. An unexpected shove can interrupt the rhythm of a climb but, more significantly for the front-runners who have TV cameras pointed at them the whole time, it can also result in punishment.

“On a more serious note,” he said, “we can get time penalties for being pushed, so it's certainly not in the GC rider's interest to be pushed.”

On most road stages riders typically use front chainrings of 53 and 39 teeth, or something very similar. With a climb as brutal as Monte Zoncolan to deal with though, most went for something smaller. “With the gearing, all the serious guys rode 'compact' crank sets,” Evans explained, “usually a 34 in front from what saw. I had a bit of trouble with the large spacing between the gears. Not something that is usually a problem climbing. With yesterday's effort [the climb of Monte Grappa] in the legs, I rode a big larger gear than preferred. Not the right way, but when it's the only way..... Second for me today.”

“My compliments to Basso and Liquigas,” the World champion concluded. “And special mention to Richie Porte who is STILL second on GC. Very very good for a young and good bloke.”

Evans has now risen to fifth place, 4’43” behind Caisse d’Epargne’s David Arroyo. With most of the riders ahead of him losing several minutes on Monte Zoncolan, and likely to lose more in the mountain stages of the third week, Evans’ biggest rival for overall victory looks to be Basso who is now 1’10” ahead.

The last rider to win the Giro d’Italia in the rainbow jersey of World champion was Giuseppe Saronni, now the boss of the Lampre-Farnese Vini team, in 1983.

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