Cycling: Consistency the key, says Evans

By Justin Davis

If he wins, Australia's Cadel Evans would become the oldest rider, by a month, to win the Tour de France. Photo / AP
If he wins, Australia's Cadel Evans would become the oldest rider, by a month, to win the Tour de France. Photo / AP

BMC team leader Cadel Evans will line up at the Tour de France on Saturday with a chance of becoming the oldest winner of the world's biggest bike race.

But after his under-par performance in a 2012 edition won by Bradley Wiggins, the 2011 champion will leave historical anecdotes to the side as he prepares to upset the victory plans of favourites Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.

The race route might change every year, but for 36-year-old Evans the keys to success remain the same.

"It will be crucial to be consistent everywhere: on the flat stages and time trials.

"The climbs will be particularly important this year. Avoiding bad luck is always key as well," he said.

As bad luck goes, Australia's Evans has had more than his fair share - including last year when the defence of his title was hit by a viral infection which left him struggling to keep pace in key mountain stages.

As Wiggins celebrated making history for Britain, Evans settled for a seventh place finish and, still suffering, pulled out of the Olympic Games.

Many fans were left wondering if the 2009 world champion's best years were behind him, but a year later Evans looks to be the only threat to 2012 runner-up Froome and Spain's former two-time winner Contador.

This year's edition is shorn of several big names.

Wiggins pulled out last month due to a combination of illness and injury. Italian Vincenzo Nibali, third last year, has opted out having achieved his main objective of the season in winning the Giro d'Italia, where Evans showed solid form in coming third.

And after going off the radar, 2010 winner Andy Schleck goes to the Tour in hope rather than belief that he can challenge for a podium place.

Evans has felt the full range of pain and upset the race throws up.

He has gritted his teeth during numerous campaigns that have been virtually derailed by crashes, illness and injury.

Evans' determined reaction to a superb solo attack by Schleck on the Galibier climb, as the race hung in the balance, allowed him to take a major step towards victory in Paris.

In eight attempts, Evans has won the race once (2011), finished runner-up twice (2007, 2008) and finished fourth overall, in 2006, for a total of six top 10 finishes in eight starts.

Evans also has the full backing of his BMC team, which includes six of the riders who contributed to his 2011 triumph: Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Amael Moinard, Steve Morabito, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schaer.

They will be joined by reigning world road champion Philippe Gilbert, as well as American climbing expert Tejay Van Garderen, whose fifth place overall last year added to Evans' woes.

If Evans upsets predictions and wins the race he would become the oldest rider, by a month, to win the Tour.

Belgian Firmin Lambot was 36 years and four months old when he won the race for the second time in 1922.

- AFP

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