Surprised Cadel Evans wins Dauphine stage
Cadel Evans was pleasantly surprised after firing the first shot in an intriguing early showdown with major Tour de France rival Bradley Wiggins.
Counting down the final days to his Tour de France title defence starting on June 30, Evans won a sprint finish to claim the first stage of the eight-day Dauphine Libere race, a traditional warm up to cycling’s biggest showpiece.
Evans got away on the tricky final descent and outsprinted France’s Jerome Coppel and Kazakh Andrey Kashechkin over the final 4km in the 187km stage.
Englishman Wiggins, touted as Evans’ biggest threat in the Tour de France, finished comfortably at the head of the peloton four seconds behind and claimed the leader’s yellow jersey by one second ahead of the Australian.
Perhaps more significantly, fellow Tour de France general classification heavy hitter Andy Schleck of Luxembourg fell away on the final climb to finish three minutes off the pace.
Evans was clearly delighted with his show of form.
“I’m arriving at the Dauphine after a long period of training,” said Evans.
“It’s a bit of a surprise to win so soon but it’s obviously a good surprise.
“It’s good for me and for the team. We come to the Dauphine every year for a test, to work together and get into the rhythm of competition.
“It shows that the work I’ve been doing is good but we’ve still got a lot of work to do and some improvements to make before we get to the Tour.”
“Can I win it (the Dauphine)? Of course. In the prologue yesterday (Sunday), I wasn’t bad – only six seconds behind the specialists.”
“I’m a racer and I like to race.”
Wiggins downplayed the significance of the day.
“It’s hard to look too much into the results,” he said.
“I knew Cadel would be good as the Tour de France is coming up and he’s always good at the Tour. There’s no surprise there.
“There’s still a long way to the Tour. That’s the race most guys are preparing for. I’m just trying to concentrate on my own race and I stayed safe today in the front and felt good.”© AFP 2013
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