By Gregor Brown
World Champion Cadel Evans is finishing off the last of his reconnaissance for the Giro d'Italia this week, one week after he conquered the Mur de Huy to win Flèche Wallonne. Yesterday, he started one of the Giro d'Italia's newest and most feared climbs, Plan de Corones, with four other professionals.
"Cadel Evans took off after three kilometres. Just like that. A man solo and in charge," Franco Pellizotti told Italian paper La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Pellizotti, Gilberto Simoni, Michele Scarponi and Matteo Bono continued climbing on their own. They were in the Dolomites to test the 12.9-kilometre climb that Giro organiser RCS Sport will use the as a mountain time trial on May 25. Its difficulty is two-fold: gradients that touch 24 per cent and the last 5.25 kilometres on a gravel road.
RCS Sport first tried to include it as the closing climb to stage 17 in 2006, but snow rendered it unusable at the last minute. It finally made its debut in 2008 as a mountain time trial, which Italy's Pellizotti won.
"It's very steep. If you don't have the legs then it will be a disaster here," Evans said after riding up the snow-lined road. "Scared? No, I like it. I found it beautiful."
The Australian of the BMC Racing Team will face Plan de Corones after the Monte Zoncolan stage and a rest day, but ahead of the third and final week of racing, which includes the Mortirolo and Gavia climbs.
"Australia is a continent, but its highest mountain [Mount Kosciuszko, 2,228m] is lower than Plan de Corones. It amazes me. The Giro is known for its climbs, steeper than the Tour [de France]. The Zoncolan is harder than the Télégraphe.
"The climbs in the last week are brutal."
Evans knows about the Giro d'Italia's brutal climbs. In 2002, he made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia working for 2000 winner Stefano Garzelli. That year he became the first Australian to wear the pink jersey, albeit for one day, after the stage to Corvara.
"It was a wonderful adventure. Rather, nearly wonderful. If I took the pink jersey on my first go, why can't I do it again? I have raced 10 Grand Tours: five Tours, four Vueltas, one Giro. I hope I have learnt something. I am more of an expert now. I have the right team. I feel stronger."
Evans insists he will race the Giro d'Italia to win even if it is only his second time to participate and he has finished twice second at the Tour de France.
"I will aim for the Giro d'Italia, with all of my team, at 100 per cent. I am thinking only of the Giro. After the Giro I will think of the Tour."
The Giro d'Italia starts next Saturday with an 8.4-kilometre time trial in Amsterdam. Evans continues his reconnaissance today with a visit to the Mortirolo and Gavia climbs.
Wiggins to lead Team Sky at the Giro
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Cadel Evans: Rider Profile
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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