Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) began his first race as world champion this morning at the Coppa Sabatini in Tuscany.
Evans lined up along side British team mates Charly Wegelius and Adam Blythe who recently signed with the Belgian team after impressing as a stagiaire. All three riders will also ride the Giro d'Emilia on Saturday and the GP Beghelli on Sunday.
Evans will also ride the Giro di Piedmont next Thursday and then end his season at the Tour of Lombardy on Saturday, October 17.
Evans was the centre of attention at the one-day race after winning the world title in Mendrisio. He chose to wear the rainbow jersey for the first time at the Coppa Sabatini because it was the first race he rode as a professional with Saeco in 1999 when he switched from mountain biking to road racing. In 1999 he wore race number 96 and the organisers gave him the same number this time.
Evans finished 38th, more than two minutes behind Dimitri Konychev in 1999. In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport he admitted he couldn't remember much about the race or result.
In the interview, Evans talked about his evolution from a mountain biker to world champion that began with Saeco and then Mapei team. He talked about his problems at Telekom and admitted he probably wouldn't be world champion without the major changes in cycling after the many doping problems.
"It was my school, my university," he said of the Mapei team.
"Cycling isn't just about pedalling, it's also about eating, drinking, resting, testing, experimenting, working and then racing. Coach Aldo Sassi was obsessed about training, it was the right philosophy for me."
His two years at Team Telekom were a little different.
"They were two unlucky years with accidents and incidents. They were the worst of my career. It was a strange team and it wasn't for me. I was marginalised, I just went to the races. Things were strange, ambiguous and not very clear."
When asked if he was the 'campione della svolta', the champion of change, Evans said: "I hope the change has already happened. But without the change perhaps I wouldn't be world champion."
Evans chats to Ivan Basso on the start line
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