Evans concerned about Tour time trial
Cadel Evans enters the last phase of the Tour de France determined to fight to the end and believing there are surprises to come, but also admitting form suggests a potential time trial walloping from leader Brad Wiggins.
Evans remains fourth, three minutes and 19 seconds behind Wiggins on the overall standings, and needing things to break his way when he battles the Briton’s powerful Sky team during two massive days in the Pyrenees which follow Tuesday’s rest day.
Saturday’s stage 19 is the decisive 53.5km time trial and the next day the Tour ends with the traditional sprinters’ finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
The defending champion’s biggest time loss to Wiggins came in the 41.5km stage nine time trial, where the British star put a minute and 43 seconds into Evans.
That was the same time gap that Wiggins had over Evans last month in the Criterium du Dauphine time trial.
“The early indicators, and especially (after) his time trial in Dauphine, his time trial here – would say he’s going to wallop me again,” Evans told AAP.
“Then with the team (Wiggins’ Sky squad) that’s not going to let me move anywhere in the mountains and the team that’s maybe strong enough to not let me move anywhere – there’s not a great deal I can do.”
But Evans’ pragmatism is far from a concession that his dream of back-to-back Tour titles has ended.
“Certainly I’m not going to believe until we get to Paris that I can’t beat Sky, because if I do believe that, we will be beaten by Sky,” he said.
“I don’t like finishing fourth in any race … you’d rather finish fourth than fifth, but I’d rather finish third, second or first.
“But I think this race still has a few surprises for us and I’m looking forward to trying to profit from those.”
Evans has not ridden badly in this race, and he has again received first-rate support from his BMC teammates.
But Wiggins and Sky to date have simply been stronger.
That was shown on the Col du Glandon midway through stage 11 in the Alps, when Evans made a bold attack.
Sky relentlessly drove a strong tempo and quickly nullified his escape attempt, then Wiggins dropped him near the finish.
“It seems like their riders have all come on in the best form of their life, right into this period until now,” Evans said.
“They ride a strategic tempo, especially on the climbs, and it’s leaving a lot of the climbers pretty empty when they get to the finals.
“It’s making it difficult to do stuff.”
Evans also had hoped to form unofficial alliances with other title contenders against Sky, but that is proving difficult.
After Wiggins, teammate Chris Froome is second, while Italian Vincenzo Nibali holds third and Belgian Jurgen Van Den Broeck is fifth.
“When we go to the front, there’s a big shuffle in the peloton behind,” Evans said.
A year ago, Evans was runner-up in the second-last day time trial to secure the title.
Evans will need an even more audacious move than Andy Schleck unleashed in the Alps last year if the Australian is to put time into Wiggins.© AAP 2013