Evans’ Tour defence starting to shape up with Criterium win

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    Champion cyclist Cadel Evans’ Tour de France defence is starting to get on track after winning the Criterium International.

    Evans took the yellow jersey on Saturday with a time trial win, and finished Sunday’s third and final stage in fourth position. The Victorian is seeking to peak in July with a later start to his season, and so far so good.

    This was Evans first win of the season after racing in the Trofeo de Mallorca and Gp Lugano in February, and the Montepaschi Strade Bianchi and Tirreno – Adriatico in March.

    The BMC team leader will next tackle the Amstel Gold Race in Holland on April 15, followed by the Fleche-Wallone, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege event and the Tour de Romandie.

    The 2011 Tour de France winner is confident about his prospects ahead. “I’m a racer, I love to race and this is my job. It’s my life, sometimes things go well and it all comes together. It’s a good indication [for the Tour] but there are still big races to come,” Evans told the media.

    But the 35-year is not getting cocky. Evans admitted that he is yet to return to his best. “I did well but I am not at my top level,” he said.

    The winner of the final stage, Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo, saved special praise for Evans: “Cadel was huge today.”

    The best previous result for Evans at the French race was a sixth place finish back in 2010.

    It what was a good event for Australia, fellow Aussie Michael Rogers finished third overall in the Criterium International after finishing the final stage in eighth spot.