Factors take toll on Evans’ Tour defence
The collapse of Cadel Evans’ Tour de France title defence is a case of death by a thousand cuts. There are a number of factors involved and if you look at each in isolation, it does not matter too much.
Add them together and you have a star rider who reached his limits on the Col de Peyresourde.
It is worth noting that Evans has not had a bad Tour – he’s twice finished second in stages.
While he lost time to Sky duo Brad Wiggins and Chris Froome in the stage-nine time trial, so did all the other main title contenders.
Evans’ problems started a lot earlier than losing almost two minutes to Wiggins in that race against the clock.
The Australian was sick in January and suffered sinus problems again during the European spring, forcing him to pull out of the Ardennes Classics week.
While he has posted some strong results this season, too often Evans seemed that fraction below where he would have liked to have been.
The Criterium du Dauphine, a key lead-up stage race before the Tour, was a case in point.
Evans won stage one, then Wiggins beat him in the time trial.
The margin was a disconcerting one minute and 43 seconds – exactly the same as stage nine (Tour de France).
Evans’ build-up to the Tour gave him reason to be confident, but it’s proved to be not enough.
By contrast, he has also faced a stronger, better-rounded opposition.
Last year, Wiggins was also a Tour contender before he crashed out in stage six.
This time, he and his Sky team have been impregnable, controlling the tempo on the climbs.
And unlike Andy and Frank Schleck, Wiggins can time trial – even better than Evans.
Indeed, Wiggins’ closest competition in this Tour hasn’t been Evans, as expected, but Froome.
Evans has tried – most notably attacking on the Col du Glandon during stage 11 – but he has always been on the defensive.
Add some stomach problems before the decisive 17th stage and the die was cast.
Evans won the 2011 Tour with a near-perfect race.
This time, there were too many little imperfections.
© AAP 2013
WHERE CADEL EVANS LOST THE TOUR DE FRANCE:
* June 30, Liege, prologue time trial – Brad Wiggins finishes second behind Swiss ace Fabian Cancellara and Evans is 13th. The Australian only loses 10 seconds, but it is a handy initial success for the British star.
* July 9, stage 9 time trial, Arc-Et-Senans to Besancon – Wiggins is outstanding and wins the stage. Evans is sixth and loses a minute and 43 seconds. He retains second place overall, but is now 1:53 off the pace.
* July 12, stage 11, Albertville to La Toussuire – BMC make a coordinated attack on the Col du Glandon, but Wiggins and his Sky teammates reel Evans back within 5km. Evans later cracks on the final climb and loses 1:26 to Wiggins. Evans is now fourth at 3:19.
* July 17 – stage 16, Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon – Evans suffers a stomach problem before the start and eventually cracks twice on the big climbs. He will finish the stage 4:47 behind Wiggins and drop from fourth to seventh overall, ending his Tour title defence.
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