Defending Tour champ Evans has work to do in Pyrenees

Cadel Evans at finish, Tour de France 2012, stage 11

Cadel Evans woke up this morning in Pau in a very different place than where he was one year ago. This year at the Tour de France, he has had his back to the wall and been on the attack, but without success.

Sky controlled defending champion Evans just as it had in the Critérium du Dauphiné one month ago. It maintained a safe distance to his attack on the Col du Glandon on Thursday and even rode more time into him on the day's final climb in La Toussuire.

Instead of an Australian positioned to win, today Evans sees that Great Britain may score its first victory in the Tour de France.

"Sky have just shown their strength, they've come out firing. They've got eight riders here, the seven of them riding on the front have just been incredible," he said last night, ahead of today's second rest day.

"Their performance in the time trial from their two leaders was also incredible. Their riders have all come on in the best form of their lives. They ride a continuous tempo that's leading the climbers pretty empty when they get to the final. It's making it difficult to do stuff."

When the riders enjoyed the race's second rest day last year, Evans maintained a position of power over his rivals. Bradley Wiggins was at home with a fractured collarbone. Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador had to attack to gain time ahead of the final time trial, where Evans eventually seized the yellow jersey.

Sky controls the race this year. Wiggins leads by 2-05 minutes over team-mate Chris Froome, 2-23 over Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and 3-19 over Evans (BMC Racing).

Evans tried to shake Sky's grip on the race in the 11th stage to La Toussuire. After Sky caught him, he suffered and lost 1-26 minutes on the finishing climb and saw Nibali move ahead.

"Bike racing's always a gamble. Sometimes you try something, but the more you risk, the more you have to gain, but also the more you have to lose," said Evans the day after his attack. "In retrospect, it wasn't a successful move, but you don't want to get to Paris thinking I should've done something more. Overall, someone had to try to do something and no one else was going to do it, and they sort of left it with me."

Evans wants to wake up in Paris with a different view on Sunday morning. He wants to wake up as he did last year, with the yellow jersey in his suitcase. He has two more chances to turn the tables, tomorrow's stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon and Thursday's stage to Peyragudes.

He added: "the more time you lose, the more remote the chance becomes," but he must be thinking of another way to strike Sky in the next two days.

Tour de France 2012: Latest news

Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack

Froome not winning this year's Tour is 'very great sacrifice'

Frank Schleck criticises 'boring' Tour de France

Wiggins: Cycling's new boss?

Wiggins still Sky's main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees

Millar's Tour win comes after 'second chance'

Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire

Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance

Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition

Wiggins: 'I'm not some s**t rider that's come from nowhere

Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration

Cavendish enjoying new Tour role

Wiggins taking nothing for granted in 'dream scenario'

Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins

Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France

Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list

Tour 2012: Who will win?

Tour de France 2012 provisional start list

Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports

Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton

Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank's Tour

Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage

Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last

Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back

Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour

Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT

Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks

Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage

Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage

Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades

Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes

Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne

Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory

Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt

Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs

Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles

Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials

CW's Tour de France podcasts

Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs

Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries

Stage 15 by Graham Watson

Stage 14 by Graham Watson

Stage 13 by Graham Watson

Stage 12 by Graham Watson

Stage 11 by Graham Watson

Stage 10 by Graham Watson

Stage nine by Graham Watson

Stage eight by Graham Watson

Stage seven by Graham Watson

Stage six by Graham Watson

Stage five by Graham Watson

Stage four by Graham Watson

Stage three by Graham Watson

Stage two by Andy Jones

Stage two by Graham Watson

Stage one by Graham Watson

Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones

Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler

Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson

Tour de France 2012: Team presentation

Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage

Stage 10 live coverage

Stage nine live coverage

Stage six live coverage

Stage five live coverage

Stage four live coverage

Stage three live coverage

Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule

ITV4 live schedule

British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Brief history of the Tour de France

Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index

1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever


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