Evans struggling in Tour de France
Cadel Evans’ slim hopes of winning a second-straight Tour de France were in jeopardy on stage 16.
The Australian twice lost contact with the group of overall leader Brad Wiggins during the brutal 197km stage from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees.
Evans was first dropped with 41km left to the finish, on the climb up the Col d’Aspin.
He chased back and rejoined Wiggins’ group, but then was in difficulty again on the Col de Peyresourde with 19km left.
Stage 16 is one of the toughest stages in this year’s Tour and the weather was adding to the difficulty.
The temperature was above 30C and many riders were struggling in the heat.
Evans started the stage at fourth overall, three minutes and 19 seconds behind Wiggins.
Wednesday is one of two big days in the Pyrenees, with stage 17 to feature the summit finish at Peyragudes.
The Australian had acknowledged before stage 16 that he would need something special to happen if he was to challenge Wiggins for the overall title.
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler won the stage with an outstanding ride, where he led the race over all five climbs.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali, who started the stage third overall, attacked Wiggins on the Peyresourde.
But Wiggins and Sky teammate Chris Froome, who is second on the standings, were able to cover Nibali’s moves.
Wiggins, Froome and Nibali finished the stage together.
Evans finished in a group that was nearly 12 minutes behind Voeckler.
More importantly, the Australian finished 4:47 behind Wiggins.
That leaves Evans seventh overall at 8:06 and there is no way he will challenge for the Tour podium from here.
The Tour finishes on Sunday in Paris.© AAP 2013
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