Cadel Evans hit back in the Tuscan rain and mud today after losing time in the Giro d’Italia’s previous stages. The Australian world champion won the seventh stage to Montalcino, gaining time on rivals Bradley Wiggins, Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso.

“It was a good stage for us, we prepared well for this stage with the bikes and the wheels, men waiting in the gravel sectors,” said Evans. “I had thought of aiming for this stage, but I did not expect it to end like this.”

It ended with Evans raising his arms in the air, showing off his rainbow jersey, albeit stained from Siena’s roads. The overall leader for the last three days, Nibali, and his Liquigas team-mate Basso finished two minutes back. Wiggins and Carlos Sastre were much further back, but they all were covered in mud.

Evans (BMC Racing) hooked onto an attack by Alexandre Vinokourov, who took advantage of Nibali’s crash with 33 kilometres to race.

Over the white gravel roads, which had turned to brown mud in the day’s heavy downpour, the duo put time into the other classification favourites. Nibali struggled, but Evans showed the mountain biking skills that brought him junior world title.

Evans gained back the time and some he lost due to a crash in stage three to Middelburg, when Wiggins crashed and he was caught behind. He also gained back the 1’21” he lost in the team time trial in Cuneo on Wednesday.

“It goes as it does here at the Giro d’Italia,” Evans continued, talking about Nibali’s crash. “The crashes were out of our control, in The Netherlands I lost time, but today the tables turned in my favour.”

Vinokourov, for his efforts, won the pink jersey. The Kazakh of team Astana spent time after the stage with the press, discussing the stage.  Evans, perhaps stressed from the previous days of racing, the lack of team support or thinking about tomorrow’s mountaintop finish to Monte Terminillo, preferred to walk away from further questions.

“I am happy to be in this position,” he said, then pausing. “Sorry, it’s too cold.”