Why Cadel needs to be shown a little more R-E-S-P-E-C-T
BMC's Cadel Evans of Australia, negotiates a curve during the fourth stage of the 64th Dauphine cycling race, a 53.6 kilometers individual time trial between Villie-Morgon and Bourg-en-Bresse, central France, Thursday, June 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
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The Tour is upon us and British cycling fans, fleeing from their team’s inevitable Euro heartbreak are cock-a-hoop with Brad Wiggins’s defence of his Criterium du Dauphine title and form.
As well they should be, he is certainly looking the strongest favourite to take out La Grande Boucle.
I know, both in-person and virtually, a lot of British citizens.
And while I love the fact that cycling is booming in popularity with them, what is starting to grate is the repeated “Cadel is a boring rider”. It is certainly not solely their nationality making this claim, but in my case they are the overwhelming protagonists.
My first thought, after the amazement has died down, is one of “what does Cadel have to do to get respect?” A Thomas Voeckler he is not, nor will he ever be. As in spite of Thomas’s inspiring attacks and panache in last year’s Tour, the best it was able to net him was fourth overall. Cadel instead played to his strengths and rode away with the grand prize.
This is not to say that Cadel is not capable of attacking. Ever since the 2009 World Championships win (and subsequent move from Silence Lotto to BMC) Cadel has raced with a much keener eye and ability to take it to his rivals.
2010 saw attacks in Liege, the Giro d’Italia (netting him the stage win on the now famous Strade Bianchi), Fleche Wallone (again resulting in a win) and of course that last ditch effort in the World Championship road race, thrilling the local Australian crowd and proving that this new, attacking Evans was no flash in the pan.
2011 was more of the same, however this time the attacks came when it mattered most – in the Tour. Taking time on his rivals in stage one and attacking again on stage four, pipping Alberto Contador for the win.
Then there was the race-defining chase of Andy Schleck’s breakaway on stage 19, on the front at the base of the Galibier and staying there all the way up it, in the process dropping riders of the ilk of Contador and Sanchez. Not a single turn was given by another rider. Cadel gritted his teeth and figured “if you want a job done properly, do it yourself”.
This year has already seen Cadel incessantly attacking in his lead up races. Stage 1 of the recent Criterium du Dauphine saw a bold attack 4km out with Kashechkin and Coppel – neither of which could pass him in the sprint to the line. Incredible given the fact they had 500 metres to do it!
Cadel then took on four Sky riders in the descent off the Joux Plane – none of them could stay with him. He took second on the stage and dished out another lesson that riders like the Schlecks would do well to remember – you gotta race them downhill too.
What is the point of listing all this?
What I’m hoping to portray is that none of this presents as the actions of a rider who deserves to be classified as boring.
Those in the public eye will always suffer from the risk of being type cast, cycling is no exception. Whether it’s Harrison Ford looking to prove he’s not only Han Solo or Laurent Jalabert, showing fans he was not just a sprinter. Cadel has done the same. I’m just wondering where the flack is coming from?
Are my British friends simply too new to cycling and not aware of this history? Or missing the ironic fact that what they’re accusing Cadel of, what they think makes him “boring”, is precisely the tactics employed by Brad Wiggins? I’m unsure.
Whatever the case, I’m am certainly at a loss at what more the poor chap needs to do to earn some good old Aretha Franklin style R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
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