Cadel Evans explained on Tuesday that early season success in Tirreno-Adriatico or in Paris-Nice is rare for a Tour de France winner. The Australian Tour winner commented in central Italy on Bradley Wiggins‘ yellow jersey ride in France.

“Bradley had some bad luck in the rain, but it went his way and now he’s in a commanding position,” Evans said in a press conference. “You also have to consider what sort of preparation he’s done in the winter. Of course, you always need to look after yourself over the winter and towards the Tour, but you don’t want to be fatigued.”

The 35-year-old Australian of BMC Racing became the first cyclist last year to win Tirreno-Adriatico in March and go on to win the Tour de France in July. Before Alberto Contador in 2007, Eddy Merckx was the last to win Paris-Nice and the Tour in the same year, in 1971. Contador did it again in 2010, but both he and Floyd Landis (Paris-Nice winner in 2006) were stripped of their Tour wins for doping.

Wiggins nearly took the Paris-Nice lead on day one. Rain hampered his performance and saw him finish one second back in the opening time trial. Sky helped him gain the lead on the second leg. Yesterday, he defended it, though Alejandro Valverde moved closer, at 20 seconds, with a stage win and bonus seconds.

“If you look back at the traditional performers of the Tour de France, not many of them have performed ever in February, March or April. Contador is probably the only exception, and then I won in Tirreno and again in July last year,” Evans continued.

“Cycling’s changing a little bit, it’s getting a little less specialised. Things turned out well for me, Tirreno went better than I expected and things just fell into place.”

Evans starts Tirreno-Adriatico as defending champion. As with last year, it begins and ends with a time trial. Today’s team time trial covers 16.9 kilometres. Mark Cavendish (Sky) and the others sprinters will have their chance on Thursday and on Friday. Then the climbing starts.

“I am not going to ask for the team’s all because I don’t know where I stand against my rivals. We will take it day-by-day to see who’s going well, thinking about the classification towards the end,” Evans explained. “The climbs are longer compared to last year and will suit the climbers. This is how it is on paper, but then we will see when we race.”

He said that Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) are direct rivals. Wiggins faces Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) and, of course, Valverde (Movistar) in Paris-Nice. The race ends on Sunday in Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday along Italy’s east coast – both leave three and a half months to the Tour de France.

Related links

Tirreno-Adriatico 2012: The Big Preview

Paris-Nice 2012: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

  • pedr09

    There’s a very good reason why Valverde should be racing phil, it’s called the rules. Those same rules that kicked him out for 2 years with no positive test. Hey, don’t get me wrong, the guy’s blood was in Fuentes lab and that’s never going to look good but you and I and almost everyone else in the world don’t know all the facts so we should avoid casting concrete judgments and let the authorities handle the punishment, which they did. They booted him, he sat out and now he’s allowed back. Like Vino, like Basso, like Millar etc.

    It would also seem somewhat of a vindication for Valverde that he is riding just as well as he ever did before his ban. A lot of riders tend to come back and are never quite as good as they were when they got into trouble…

    JD and phil, I think Valverde is going to cause you plenty of anguish this year 😉

  • Bob

    Hey JD,

    Isn’t all of cycling in denial about its past?

    That’s fairly specious reasoning as to who is a “real” champion.

  • phil

    I think Evans is very worried about Wiggins even if it is only March. Wiggins can time trial better than Evans and can probably climb just as well. Wiggins looks like he is following a very similar racing schedule to last year and will not be over raced come the Tour.

    Agree with JD about Valverde. I see no reason why this guy should be racing at all. He should have been banned for life.

  • Nick

    With no Contador at this years TDF and a course that plays to his strengths, it’s now or never for Wiggo.

  • Dave Moulton

    Looks like Raymond Poulidor shaking Wiggo’s hand

  • Lee

    Interesting that Cadel talks about a win in March and a win in July being rare, granted it is, but then Cadel did it last year with the Adriatico and then the Tour. No reason why Wiggo and Team Sky cant also pull it off. One things for sure though…. its going to be an electrically charged Tour de France this year with high TT miles and Cadel and Wiggo with super-teams backing them up in the hills!!!! Can’t wait…. This is possibly going to be the best sporting summer for a while 😀

  • JD

    The world will take a Bradley Wiggins triumph not least because it will keep Valverde out.

    Cycling needs a real champion, not some guy in denial about his past.