Light spring programme for Cadel Evans as he makes bid to be the oldest post-war Tour de France winner
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Monday, February 28, 2011

Light spring programme for Cadel Evans as he makes bid to be the oldest post-war Tour de France winner

by Ben Atkins at 11:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
BMC director John Lelangue believes that the Australian can win the Tour at 34

cadel evansCadel Evans (BMC Racing) will have a much lighter race programme on the lead up to the Tour de France this year compared to last, the Australian’s sports director John Lelangue told the Advertiser in Adelaide, Australia. In 2010, World champion Evans was keen to show off his new rainbow jersey as much as possible and so was competitive right from the start of the season at January’s Tour Down Under; this time around he will be much more focused on his prime objective in July, racing just 32-35 days.

Should Evans be successful in the Tour, he would not only be the first Australian to win the race, but also the oldest winner since Henri Pélissier, who was 34 years and six months old when he took the race in 1923.

The oldest winner of the race so far was Belgian Firmin Lambot, who was 36 years old when he took the 1922 race.

In the post-war years the great Italian Gino Bartali turned 34 midway through his second race victory in 1948; recently Lance Armstrong (2005) and Carlos Sastre (2008) have both won at the age of 33.

Although Evans is relatively advancing in years, Lelangue denies that this is the reason for the light spring programme.

"I would do the same for a guy if he was 28," he said. "The start of the season is a really light program so he's fresh when he gets to the Tour de France."

Last year, as well as a strong spring campaign, winning la Flèche Wallonne, Evans rode the Giro d’Italia, where he won the epic stage across the Tuscan strade bianche to Montalcino, finished fifth overall and took the points jersey.

It’s tough to know how much this took out of him as he crashed on the Tour's first big mountain stage to Morzine-Avoriaz and fractured his elbow; although the Australian battled on to the finish in Paris, his injury obviously seriously affected his race.

"The most important thing is he comes to the Tour de France with a lot of energy," said Lelangue, and in reference to Evans’ age: "He's like a good bottle of wine.

“We have full confidence in Cadel,” Lelangue concluded, “we know why we took him [on]."

While Evans would be the oldest winner since Lambot, a number of riders have performed well in the Tour, despite their advancing years.

Lance Armstrong’s “comeback 2.0” in 2009 saw the seven-time winner attempt an eighth victory as he fast approached his 38th birthday; he found his way blocked by 26-year-old teammate Alberto Contador though, as well as 24-year-old Andy Schleck, but hung on to finish third.

Armstrong’s achievement pales into comparison to that of the French “eternal second” Raymond Poulidor though.  The legendary Poupou took the last of his eight Tour podiums (3rd overall in 1976) at the ripe old age of 40!

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