Has Cadel Evans conceded he can’t win the Tour De France?

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2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of Australia, right, follows overall leader Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, left, during the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 207.5 kilometers (129 miles) with start in Epernay and finish in Metz, France, Friday July 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

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One of the features of the 2013 Giro d’Italia is a 55-kilometre time trial from Gabbicce Mare to Saltara. It was a feature that attracted Bradley Wiggins as he attempts to win his second Grand Tour. Yesterday, another big name added his name to the race.

Cadel Evans revealed through La Gazzetta dello Sport (owner of the Giro) that he would again participate in the Grand Tour double – Giro and Le Tour de France. Evans told La Gazzetta, “I’m going to ride the Giro. And I want to make it clear, I won’t be riding it for training but to get back to my best level”.

The Giro has been a successful hunting ground for Evans after wearing pink in his Giro debut in 2002 and then again in 2010, after winning Stage 7 Carrara to Montalcino in wet and muddy conditions. However, the 2013 parcours provides Evans with what may be his last chance to win the Giro. The course is not as tough as previous years, and the 55km time trial will give Evans an advantage over his greatest rivals like Scarponi, Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez.

Evans indicated to La Gazzatta that “BMC suggested doing it. My 2012 season ended with the disappointment of seventh in the Tour de France. The idea was to add an important race like the Giro to my programme. I thought about it and said yes. Getting some extra race days in my legs won’t do me any harm at all.”

However, we do not need to go back to far to realise how difficult it is to complete the Giro-Tour double, let alone win. The last winner of the Giro-Tour double was Marco Pantani in 1998. Many riders have tried and failed.

The last time that Evans attempted this feat was in 2010 where he won neither the Giro or the Tour. In fact, he finished a very competitive fifth in the Giro, but could only manage a disappointing 25th in Le Tour.

But that was three years ago. Is it possible for a 36 year old to be competitive in two of the most difficult bike races in the world?

Evans’ season to date has been mixed. After finishing third in the Tour of Oman, his form has tumbled with poor results in the Tirreno-Adriatico and at the Criterium International. Similar to last year’s Tour, Evans ended up working for young American star Tejay van Garderen after a poor time trial at the Criterium International knocked him out of contention.

Evan’s form in recent weeks must be concerning for BMC team management. Team Sky has shown during the Paris-Nice and Criterium International that they will pound teams into submission by increasing the tempo until each team cracks.

If BMC is going to be a threat to Team Sky’s defence of the Le Tour de France, then it needs to send it best team to both the Giro and Le Tour. Asking a team to send out its number one rider to first compete against the Wiggins-led Team Sky juggernaut and then the Froome-led Team Sky juggernaut is the equivalent to cycling suicide.

I sense BMC management is also growing nervous about the ability of Evans to win the toughest race on the cycling calender. World cycling is competitive both in terms of sponsorship dollars and race results. A team cannot select a rider just because he won Le Tour two years earlier.

A rider must prove that he is the best or risk having the team will stop working for him during the race. The selection of Evans to ride at the Giro may be the first sign that BMC team management is starting to strategically question who should be the No. 1 rider at Le Tour in 2013.

A podium finish by Evans at the Giro may allow him to take the No. 1 team spot to the start line at Porto-Vecchi. However, a poor performance is likely to result in the baton being passed to the next generation at BMC to attempt to lift the trophy on the Champs-Élysées. The next generation’s representative is Tejay van Garderen.

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