Cadel Evans has admitted that his chances of winning the 2009 Tour de France have taken a hit because of the return of Lance Armstrong and the strength of the Astana team.

Evans was isolated and worked over by the CSC team this year and he clearly fears a similar scenario next year after Astana also convinced Yaroslav Popovych to jump ship and leave Evans.

Silence-Lotto has signed Britain?s Charly Wegelius but has also lost Dario Cioni, who played an important role in the team despite having a disappointing Tour de France. The Belgian team had signed Bernhard Kohl but the Austrian has been banned for two years after his positive for CERA at the Tour de France.

Speaking to the Australian Associated Press during some time at home down under, Evans admitted Astana was stronger than ever, while Silence-Lotto was clearly weaker after losing Popovych.

“I think Lance’s return brought also with it quite a bit of budget to buy some good team-mates.” Evans said.

“He has the resources and the capacities to put together a really good team and that’s what he’s done, which of course for us is hard to beat. Astana are far more well resourced than our team is.”

“That was sort of the main thing and probably the most difficult thing to overcome racing against (Armstrong). He had the best team in the hundred-year history of the Tour de France.”

Evans recently re-signed with Silence-Lotto for another two years, on the understanding that the team would be strengthened. Despite the arrival of Wegelius, who will be able to help Evans on the climbs, the Australian admitted that has not happened.

“It’s not going real good at the moment. I asked that they keep one of my team-mates, Popovych, and sign two more and as it’s turned out Bernhard Kohl is obviously not part of our team any more,? he said, perhaps already accepting it will hard to beat Astana in the 2009 Tour de France.


Following a difficult 2008 season because of his positive for cocaine, Tom Boonen has moved quickly to plan his 2009 season and confirmed he will not target the world championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

The course around Mendrisio is expected to be tough and selective and Boonen has made it clear it is not for him. He hinted that he may end his season early and so also miss Paris-Tours.

Boonen has already confirmed he will move back to Belgium in the new year, quitting the Monte Carlo tax haven, and will again begin his season at the Tour of Qatar (February 1-6). He will also ride the Tour of California (Feb 15-22) as build-up for the early Belgian semi-classics Het Volk (Feb 28) and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (March 1).

After that he will target Milan-San Remo before heading home for the Flemish classics. He is then expected to target the Tour de France, probably going head to head with Mark Cavendish in the sprints and in the battle for the green jersey.

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Spain?s Alberto Contador will leave a Madrid hospital today after successfully undergoing a minor operation on his nose and throat.

The Giro d?Italia and Vuelta winner damaged his nose in a crash during the Giro d?Italia and the operation should relieve a minor breathing problem. A polyp on his vocal cords that had been affecting his voice and was also removed.

It was speculated that the operation would mean Contador would not travel to Tenerife this weekend to meet with Lance Armstrong at the first Astana training camp of the winter. Contador has been advised not to talk for several days and so may not immediately have face to face discussions with Armstrong about who will lead the team at the Tour de France. However he will be at the camp and work in the gym before probably getting back on his bike near the end of the training camp.


The UCI?s hopes of controlling professional cycling via the ProTour have failed but the big professional teams have decided to continue as ProTour teams in 2009, with 16 teams now granted a ProTour licence.

After giving the Garmin team a ProTour licence in early October, on Monday the UCI approved the ProTour licence of an additional seven teams, with other teams already under licence for 2009 and beyond. Cofidis has been given a one-year licence for 2009, while Francaise des Jeux (FRA), Quick Step (BEL), Saxo Bank-IT Factory (DEN), Silence-Lotto (BEL) and Rabobank (NED) have all been given a licence for at least two years. The new Russian Katyusha team has also been given a ProTour licence.

The UCI said applications from were Euskaltel-Euskadi (ESP) and BBox Bouygues Telecom (FRA) are still being considered, meaning the 2009 UCI ProTour could include 18 teams.