Australian Cadel Evans appears ready to win the Tour de France next month. BMC Racing’s classification leader had the most consistent build up of all of his rivals, even three-time winner Alberto Contador.
“Now we just have to get him on the starting line and race,” BMC’s general manager, Jim Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly today.
“Our team is prepared for the Tour, to help Cadel. We’ll have a good time trial team, we’ll be there in the rolling and flat stages and we’ll take him as far as we can in the mountains, then it’s up to Cadel.”
Evans twice already finished second overall, once behind Contador in 2007 and once behind Carlos Sastre in 2008.
With a strengthened BMC team, Evans won two stages races – Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Romandy – and finished second to Bradley Wiggins in the Critérium du Dauphiné last week. Those results, combined with a less stressful Tour build up, top those of three-time Tour winner, Alberto Contador: the Tour of Murcia, the Tour of Catalonia and the Giro d’Italia.
Contador tested positive for clenbuterol last year, has been investigated and acquitted. He must stress, though, about the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing set for early August.
Evans, strictly speaking of results, performed stronger than rivals Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank).
“When you can win two ProTour [World Tour] races and get second in a third leading to the Tour, that’s pretty good,” continued Ochowicz.
“The plan was to start out slow. He passed on the Tour Down Under and some of the smaller stage races in exchange for more training and quieter sessions.”
Contador and Schleck may have had different pre-season build ups, but they both are more explosive than Evans. They’ll try to take advantage of Evans, and Sky’s Wiggins, on the six high mountain stages. Evans, though, will claw them back slowly in the mountain stages and out-perform in the time trial.
“Cadel will be there every day, grinding it out,” Ochowicz said. “If you are there every day, you’ll win the Tour de France.”
Only on July 24 in Paris, BMC will know for sure if Evans’ staying power, his strong early season and experience will produce Australia’s first Tour de France winner.