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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