Evans aims to shake up Tour
Defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans will try to turn the strength of Bradley Wiggins’ Sky team to his own advantage.
After Tuesday’s rest day, the Tour will feature its first mountain stage with a 194.5km route from Macon to Bellegarde sur Valserine in the Jura region.
It will include the first “HC”, or top category, climb of this year’s race, the brutish 17.1km Col du Grand Colombier.
On Saturday, Wiggins took the yellow jersey and Sky displayed their collective climbing prowess on the steep finish to stage seven.
While Evans was among the leaders and improved from sixth to second overall, the stage also showed that Sky will have superior numbers through the mountains.
Their firepower forced several other “GC”, or general classification, riders to lose valuable time.
But that means plenty of strong climbers will want to shake the race up and maybe try to gain time back on Wiggins with some speculative attacking.
The more riders attacking Sky, the more potential allies for Evans.
“It’s a different situation to years gone by – people are isolated, a lot of the leaders are isolated,” Evans said after stage eight.
“Especially guys like (Jurgen) Van Den Broeck or maybe (Alejandro) Valverde, who have already lost time, they don’t have anything to lose.
“So they’re much more willing to put it out there.”
Despite Sky’s obvious strength, Evans’ BMC team director John Lelangue was also far from disheartened.
“We’re confident … we know what we’re doing, there are still two weeks to go until Paris so let’s take it day-by-day,” he said.
“It’s also been perfect for us that there are some guys who are close (to the lead) and want to make the race a little harder and some guys who have lost two or three minutes and want to make up time.”
Evans was also outnumbered in last year’s Tour, when he duelled with brothers Andy and Frank Schleck before snaring the title on the second-last day.
But Wiggins is a more well-rounded rider than the Schlecks and his team looks even stronger for the mountains.
Australian duo Richie Porte and Mick Rogers will provide crucial support for Wiggins on the big climbs.© AAP 2013
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