Evans makes solid Tour start
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)
Defending champion Cadel Evans was philosophical after main rival Bradley Wiggins won their opening duel in this year’s Tour de France.
Swiss powerhouse Fabian Cancellara won the Tour prologue for the fifth time, beating Wiggins by seven seconds over the 6.4km time trial course in the Belgian city of Liege.
Evans finished a solid 13th, finishing 17 seconds off the pace, and was more concerned about losing 10 seconds to Wiggins.
The widely-held perception is that this year’s Tour will come down to an “Ashes” duel between the Australian and his British rival.
In better news for Evans’ BMC team, new American recruit Tejay van Garderen showed strong form by finishing fourth fastest.
He will be a crucial ally for Evans in the mountain stages.
Brett Lancaster gave Orica-GreenEDGE’s Tour debut a great start by finishing sixth as the fastest Australian.
“(It’s) not good, not bad,” Evans said after he was the last of 198 riders to contest the time trial.
“Of course, I would rather concede less seconds, you never want to lose time.
“I’m happy to get it started and for me, the real action starts tomorrow.”
Evans was also not surprised that Wiggins was faster in a time trial that was always going to suit the British rider more.
The Australian also noted that it was a tiny fraction of the three-week race.
“It’s 6km (out of) 3500 or so, in that regard it’s a small comparison,” Evans said.
A few minutes after Wiggins clocked seven minutes and 20 seconds, Cancellara was the second-last starter and he blitzed with 7:13.
“It’s great. I’m really proud to have won here today eight years after my first Tour victory in Liege,” said Cancellara who won on an almost identical TT course in 2004.
“It hasn’t been the best season for me, but this really helps make amends.
Evans started last as defending champion and he rode 7:30, while van Garderen finished in 7:23.
Lancaster was among the earlier starters and he briefly held the lead with an impressive 7:24.
The next-best Australian was Wiggins’ Sky team-mates Richie Porte, who will be a key lieutenant for the British star.
Porte was 36th in 7:35 and Orica-GreenEDGE rider Stuart O’Grady was 44th with 7:36.
Michael Rogers, who like Porte will work for Wiggins in the mountains, was 61st in 7:38.
This is a banner year for Australia at the Tour.
Apart from Evans’ title defence, Orica-GreenEDGE is the first Australian team in the Tour and the start list features a record 12 riders from this country.© AAP 2013