Cadel Evans re-birth as a pro-cyclist continued today on the Mûr-de-Bretagne, in Western France. The Australian won the fourth leg of the Tour de France after holding off a last-minute charge from three-time race winner, Alberto Contador.
“It’s a long way to go to Paris,” Evans said post-stage. “We will carefully work on our plan to win the Tour.”
Evans finished second overall at the Tour de France twice, once by only 23 seconds to Spain’s Contador in 2007. Those years were before the 2009 World Championships, before his re-birth. He won the championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, and announced weeks later he’d ride with team BMC Racing the next season.
The wins kept coming.
Last year he won the Flèche Wallonne and a stage at the Giro d’Italia, and wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France (only a crash and a fractured elbow kept him from racing to Paris). This year, he won the general classification at the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie stage races.
“Everyone seems to count it back to that win in Mendrisio,” Evans said in a post-race press conference. “I think that for me, it’s the completely different development at BMC. We have the same mentality, we have the same goals.”
“The results speak for themselves.”
He topped today’s stage results ahead Contador, his direct rival for the race’s overall victory. With two and half weeks go race, he leads all of his classification rivals: Fränk Schleck by three seconds, Brad Wiggins by nine seconds, Andy Schleck by 11 seconds, Ivan Basso by 1-02 minutes and Contador by 1-41 minutes.
Wiggins and Basso lost six seconds today, Andy Schleck eight seconds.
Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) leads the race and Evans by one second, but he’ll fall out of contention when the race covers its first high mountains. Saturday’s stage ends up the 1275-metre Super-Besse.
Evans’ stage win today was a step towards those mountain stages and what he hopes is the overall win in Paris.
“Our objectives are always the same. Anywhere we can get time, though, is a bonus.”
The 34-year-old has two years to reach his objective. His contract with BMC ends at the end of next year and he plans to retire afterwards.
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index