Cadel Evans to Defend Road Cycling World Champion Title on Home Turf

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09/28/2010| 0 comments
by Reuters, with additional commentary by Roadcycling.com
Cadel Evans. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Cadel Evans. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Cadel Evans to Defend Road Cycling World Champion Title on Home Turf

Australia's Cadel Evans can count on strong support from the crowd when he defends his road world title on home soil this weekend, but he faces an uphill battle on a course which does not suit him.

Australia's Cadel Evans can count on strong support from the crowd when he defends his road world title on home soil this weekend, but he faces an uphill battle on a course which does not suit him.

The 33-year-old twice Tour de France runner-up and Team BMC Racing rider won last year's title in Mendrisio, less than three kilometres from his adopted home in Switzerland, and will bid for another rainbow jersey in the port city of Geelong, a training ride away from his Australian home in Barwon Heads.

Despite knowing the terrain well, Evans has all but written off his chances on the 262.7 km course which involves an 88 kilometre transfer from Melbourne before 11 laps of a 15.9 km circuit in Geelong featuring two arduous climbs.

"For the race, I am being realistic," BMC Racing rider Evans told reporters. "As I said when I first rode the course back in 2008, it is not a course that suits me."

The Australian stage specialist has been happy to concede favourite status to Belgian Philippe Gilbert, who is better suited to the Geelong circuit and comes into the event in ominous form after winning two stages at the Tour of Spain this month.

"It's a really good course for him and he's shown at the Vuelta that he's probably the strongest guy around," said Evans, one of nine on a strong Australian team including Matt Goss and Stuart O'Grady.

The late climbs in the circuit before the finish line are expected to negate any chance of a bunch sprint, perhaps leaving the door open for Italy's Filippo Pozzato in the absence of Tour de France champion Alberto Contador and runner-up Andy Schleck who decided to skip the event.

Pozzato has carried strong form on the Tour of Spain into Australia and won the 130 km warmup at the World Cycling Classic at Buninyong near Melbourne on Sunday.

He leads a team also boasting Vincenzo Nibali, who last week became the first Italian to win the Tour of Spain in two decades.

The team has been charged with bringing the world title home by coach Paolo Bettini to honour late former national coach Franco Ballerini, who was killed in a car accident this year.

"We have to race like Franco would have wanted, that is the only way that we can honour his memory," Bettini said. "He would have been here with us, had fate not taken him away."

Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara was a late confirmation for the meeting, but has hit the ground running with a fourth-place finish at the World Cycling Classic and has a chance of a record fourth world title in the time trials on Thursday.

"To be honest, I'm not as hungry (for victory) as I have been in the past few years, but when you've got the chance to make history it's a different matter," he said.

The 2010 Road Cycling World Championships, which starts on Wednesday, also features the women's and under-23 road and time trial world titles.

Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for complete 2010

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