Cadel Evans Powers to Overall Tour de France Lead in Decisive Time Trial
Germany's Tony Martin secured Team HTC-HighRoad its fifth stage win of the 2011 Tour de France earlier this afternoon when he powered to victory in the Tours's final individual time trial from Grenoble to Grenoble.
had vanished - Evans was 1:32 faster. The Luxembourg rider wasn't even among the 10 fastest riders who had crossed that point. Evans then kept gaining as the stage progressed to the finish.
The looming victory for Evans, the BMC team leader, culminated a stellar and methodical three weeks of riding. Unlike defending champion Alberto Contador and other main contenders, Evans was spared crashes. His only real problem was mechanical trouble Friday, but he recovered without any lost time.
Evans will have won one Tour de France stage on his way to overall Tour victory. More specifically Evans won stage 4 of the Tour. His well-deserved overall Tour triumph attests to his diligent preparation as he eyed a title he has narrowly missed for years.
"Today, we went through the process, like we had the plan every day - and the plan every day was A, B, C, D." he said.
Evans showed a veteran's skill and savvy to take cycling's greatest prize.
"This is the victory of a complete rider," Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said. "Is the consecration of a career."
Evans had been regarded as a perennial underachiever by many cycling analysts until he became a world champion two years ago. And he enjoyed a solid build-up to the Tour, racing less than usual so he would peak at the right moment and arrive at the Tour start in well-rested condition.
The parallels between Andy Schleck and Evans are considerable. Both are two-time runners-up. Both have been second to Contador - Evans once and Schleck twice. Both also know what it's like to just miss out on victory. Evans was second to Contador by 23 seconds in 2007; Schleck was 39 seconds behind the Spaniard last year - two of the closest finishes in race history.
The Schlecks - whichever one - were vying to be the first from Luxembourg to capture the Tour de France victory since Charly Gaul became the country's only winner in 1958.
As second and third overall, they will be the first brothers to share the Tour's winners podium on the Champs-Elysees.
The Schleck brothers, knowing they had lost, embraced after the finish line of the 26-mile time trial. Evans leads Andy Schleck by 01:34, and Frank Schleck by 02:30 heading into the final stage.
Click here for complete stage 20 results and additional photos.