Distanced during Thursday's key mountain stage, Cadel Evans dropped out of the Giro's podium positions

Cadel Evans once sat on top of the Giro d’Italia in the leader’s pink jersey. After being knocked out of the third overall yesterday, he fights to maintain a top ten.

“The next two days are still going to change things around,” Evans said, “so I’m not so deluded by the whole thing.”

Evans stepped out of the anti-doping truck at the top of the Panarotta climb yesterday afternoon. He dressed in several layers of red and black BMC kit to keep his body warm.

Further away, the announcer called race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the podium. Quintana defended his pink jersey under multiple attacks from Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Fabio Aru (Astana).

Rolland won the Alpe d’Huez stage and the young rider’s white jersey at the 2011 Tour de France. His attacks lifted the pace of the front group and forced Evans out. When reaching the Panarotta Refuge, 1760 metres above sea level in the Dolomites, Evans trailed his rivals by 1-41 minutes. The former Aussie Tour winner slipped from third overall to ninth, 4-59 minutes behind Quintana and 1-30 behind Rolland in third place.

“In one way the day could be worse but it certainly could’ve been a lot better,” said Evans. “The day didn’t go in my favour again today. I wasn’t at the level of the others. It was a big time loss and going from a podium place to just inside the top ten isn’t the direction I wanted to take and is exactly what I didn’t want to happen.”

Cadel Evans on stage nine of the 2014 Giro d'Italia

Cadel Evans on stage nine of the 2014 Giro d’Italia

The 37-year-old has two chances to change the direction of his Giro d’Italia, where last year he placed third overall. Today, the Giro d’Italia’s 157 remaining cyclists time trial 26.85 kilometres up Monte Grappa. Tomorrow, it races though the Dolomites and up the 22% gradients to finish on Monte Zoncolan.

“This is only the beginning of the end of the Giro,” Evans continued. “We’ll get a better idea of who is the best in the time trial and then there’s still one more day where things can turn around.”

For comparison, this year’s mountain time trial features steeper pitches and runs longer than the one to Polsa last year. Evans had a bad day in the stage and lost 2-36 minutes to leader Vincenzo Nibali. The last time he raced Zoncolan, in 2010, he battled eventual race winner Ivan Basso to the top and placed second at 1-19. In that Giro, he placed fifth overall.

The wars haven’t been kind to Bassano del Grappa. Its famous Ponte Vecchio bridge has been built and destroyed several times. Locals built the current wooden one, just 300 metres from today’s start ramp, in 1947 after World War 2.

Evans begins his battle today at 15:47 local time. The others follow at three minute intervals. He added, “It’s not over until it’s over.”