Cadel Evans of Australia has said that he believes a victory is within his power this July.
?Two years ago I was not sure if I could win the Tour. Now all the indications are that I can.? he commented on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference after stage three of the Dauphine, his last pre-Tour warm-up event, Evans denied he was the main favourite.
?In this year?s Tour there will be no previous year?s champion, so we?re looking at an open race.? the Silence-Lotto leader said.
?People can call me a favourite if they want to, though, I just take it as a compliment.?
?Whatever happens, my team are ready to win, even though we don?t plan to lead the race from start to finish. We?re not like Discovery or US Postal were or maybe Rabobank last year.”
“We?ve worked little by little, and we?ve created a great team for the Tour.?
After the Tour, Evans confirmed that he would be aiming to take part in the Olympics road-race.
?They?ve got a course which suits me, and after two weeks between the Tour and Olympics I should have time to bounce back.?
Coincidentally or not, Evans most direct comments to date about his capacity to win the Tour came just hours after the Dauphine Libere’s stage three time trial, where he placed third behind Tour contender Alejandro Valverde. “He’s improved a lot.” Evans commented.
The Australian’s team said Evans had recovered well from a case of tendinitis in his left knee that had troubled him during recent traning.
?He?s in good shape, today?s time trial result shows that Cadel is back on track.? team manager Marc Sergeant added.
Sergeant freely admitted that with no Astana the Tour would not be the same as if the Kazakh squad were riding.
?No Astana means that a lot of teams and riders think they have the chance of a lifetime to win.? added Sergeant, who confirmed that Robbie McEwen remains amongst Silence-Lotto’s long list for the Tour, which also includes Yaroslav Popovych, Mario Aerts, Christophe Brandt, Dario Cioni, Leif Hoste and Johan Van Summeren.
?Cadel may not have the strongest team, but he?s certainly the strongest rider for the Tour.” Sergeant concluded. “His biggest strength? His consistency. He’s always there.”
DAUPHINE LIBERE 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage three: Valverde takes control of Dauphine
Stage two: Hincapie outclasses bunch in Dauphine
Stage one: Valverde takes classy win
Prologue: Leipheimer soars to Dauphine prologue win
NEWS & FEATURES
Analysis: Is Valverde suddenly brilliant against the clock
Evans says Tour within his power
War weary Wegelius battles on in Dauphine
Hushovd: Boonen affair “not good for cycling”
Flat start for Dauphine Libere
Dauphine Libere 2008 preview