Just seven days after I wrote “he can’t win the Tour Down Under” he goes and destroys a field full of extremely good bicycle riders, making grown men with hair on their legs (well, they could if they wanted) look like juniors.
I’d like to claim that Cadel reads The Roar and was irked by my dismissal of his chances.
However, there’s little chance of that (not him reading The Roar, just that there’s no chance of him giving a toss what some journo says).
Seeing him gasping and gaping for air in the last kilometres as the chasing group tried to reel him in showed just how much he wants this 2014 Tour Down Under General Classification.
He said at the end while talking to the taller half of the Liggett and Sherwin comedy duo that “we’re only really here for the GC, that’s what I’m all about”, and his muted celebration proved just that.
You’ve got very good and very experienced riders in there in the form of Simon Gerrans, Richie Porte and a raft of other guys, but no one’s got what Cadel Evans has: the experience of challenging for and then winning one of the three Grande Tours, and indeed, the biggest one of all, the Tour de France.
Orica-GreenEdge were going for it, wanting to keep Gerrans in the leader’s jersey, but there was no holding Evans on the climb and once he opened up on the descent – another sign of his huge wealth of experience and of his MTB background – he was gone.
He hasn’t given up though, despite now being 12 seconds behind, and was bullish (and a little brusque, truth be told) after the race when he said “I don’t think we’ve ever seen the leader, in the last couple of years, who has the leader’s jersey early manages to win it. It’s not going to be easy for Cadel. We’re going to throw everything at him, that’s for sure.”
Richie Porte of Sky, who’s now 33 seconds down in 11th, sounded, to just about anyone who watched Evans rip the race open and with it take the lead, much more realistic, happy now it seems to just be targeting the podium.
“Cadel was absolutely flying, I tried to go with him. In those hairpins, I couldn’t stay with him, and he got away. It’s a little disappointing, but Saturday is another hilltop finish, I am quite hopeful we have the team to at least get up there on the podium,” said Porte.
Robert Gesing too has accepted the superiority of the Aussies and in particular Evans.
“In the end, Cadel remained just a bit too far for us” said the Belkin GC rider. “It was a difficult day. We are still up in the front. That’s how cycling works, you keep trying to win something, so you look forward to the next opportunity. Cadel was impressive, he’s in the best shape now, and so are the other Aussie guys.”
Evans didn’t win here because of a bit of luck. It was a stone cold killer move, executed with the wise old poker player’s hand, and played to perfection.
It showed that he is the strongest here, and barring calamity, I’ll bet you a hat he’s going to taker the GC home…
The currently silent and vacant sporting landscape has brought on much reflection. Many Australian competitions appear likely to go to ruin in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and concerns around what our sporting face will look like in a few months are genuine.
Five months have passed since Rohan Dennis abandoned the Tour de France in mysterious circumstances, climbing off the bike seemingly without cause during stage 12, the day before the race’s major time trial.