Cadel Evans Optimistic Before Tour de France Reaches Decisive Mountains

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07/12/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing). Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing). Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Cadel Evans Optimistic Before Tour de France Reaches Decisive Mountains

With his self-confidence at an all-time high and luck finally on his side, Team BMC Racing's former World Champion Cadel Evans (Australia) could achieve something special in this year's Tour de France.

With his self-confidence at an all-time high and luck finally on his side, Team BMC Racing's former World Champion Cadel Evans (Australia) could achieve something special in this year's Tour de France.

Evans, a two-time Tour de France runner-up, has survived a crash-marred first week of racing which saw several contenders bow out of the race. He stands third in the overall standings, the best placing among the favorites.

The BMC team leader finished behind Alberto Contador in 2007 while Carlos Sastre beat him in 2008. Last year, he wore the yellow jersey but fractured his left elbow and had to be content with a 26th-place finish overall as the Tour de France finished on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Evans, who had been regarded as a perennial underachiever until he silenced his critics to become world champion in 2009, looks remarkably stronger this year.

"The psychological part of it is pretty enormous," BMC manager Jim Ochowicz said and added "He changed his approach to his racing and he learned to manage his own expectations of the race."

Evans enjoyed a perfect build-up to the Tour, racing less than usual in order to reach his peak during the sport's grueling three-week showcase. Although he refuses to rate himself as the general classification favorite, his confidence is flying high.

"So far so good, the team has been great, keeping me out of trouble, and if it could continue like this I would be very, very happy," Evans said.

While Bradley Wiggins, Christopher Horner, Alexandre Vinokourov and Jurgen Van den Broeck have all been forced to withdraw through injuries, Evans avoided all the crashes by staying constantly ahead of the pack, well protected by his teammates.

He stands 2 minutes, 26 seconds behind race leader Thomas Voeckler. The Schleck brothers Frank and Andy are fourth and fifth, at 2:29 and 2:37 respectively while defending champion Alberto Contador is 16th, 4:07 off the pace.

According to Ochowicz, mental toughness - the Australian's Achilles' heel in the past - is now one of his main assets.

"He manages this really well," Ochowicz said and continued "With the racing aspect, we've seen a difference in his ability to handle the stress of the race last year. And he has improved on that again this year."

Before joining Team BMC Racing at the end of the 2009 season, Evans had spent five years within the Lotto team ranks. There, he was passive and often criticized by pundits for his tactics and his uninteresting way of racing.

The 34-year-old Evans, a former mountain bike specialist, decided to leave Lotto to find a better environment and to be supported by riders capable of helping him win the Tour de France.

"Within the BMC team he found a serene and very laid-back atmosphere, a very American atmosphere," Team BMC Racing sports director John Lelangue analyzed and continued "It surely fits Anglo-Saxon riders, and he is one of them. We also speak English when we eat together, during the briefings, on the race radio, that surely helps."

Ochowicz said Evans' self-confidence is

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