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.
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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.
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