Cadel Evans is making progress towards his first Grand Tour win. Today, the Australian of team BMC Racing finished second in the time trial up Plan de Corones and gained important time on his rivals.

“I gave my most,” explained Evans. “You can see from the results.”

Stefano Garzelli topped the result sheet, but he is out of the overall battle. What mattered to Evans was that he gained time on his other classification rivals. He finished in 42-10, putting 19 seconds on Vincenzo Nibali, 28 seconds on Ivan Basso and 55 seconds on Alexandre Vinokourov.

With only five more days to race, Evans needs to take advantage of every opportunity possible to win the overall. Today, the former mountain biker was on his turf and had his opportunity. The 12.9-kilometre Plan de Corones finished on gravel roads, with gradients similar to what Evans covered when he ruled the mountain bike scene.

“On the gravel there was a different feeling and you can feel it in your muscles,” he continued. “It is hard to keep your wheels on the ground, so my background helped there.”

Despite the time loss, Basso (Liquigas) gained time on overall leader David Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne) and still leads Evans by 32 seconds.

“I lost something on Evans, but I gained on [Carlos] Sastre and Arroyo,” said Basso. “My team, Liquigas showed over the weekend we are strong, and I think we will continue to be strong.”

Evans’ weakness is his inexperienced team, which, including him, is down to only five riders. His rivals have consistently isolated him over the last weeks and they will continue to do so in three high-mountain stages remaining.

“I have always raced against strong teams, be it Astana, US Postal/Discovery Channel,” said Evans. “I am used to it.”

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