Cadel Evans faces a rough ride in the next two weeks of the Tour de France if he is to defend the leader’s yellow jersey.
The Australian of BMC Racing took the top spot yesterday at the end of the race’s first high-mountain stage. He fended off early attacks from his main rivals, including Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) and eventual stage winner Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).
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Luxembourg’s Schleck played his cards wisely, though. He won the stage by 10 seconds over Evans and yet made sure he did not take the yellow jersey too early. He trails Evans by 20 seconds in the overall.
The jersey is one of the most prestigious tops in cycling, but it comes at a price: daily press conferences, doping controls and the responsibility of controlling the race.
“To get the yellow at the Tour de France is always something special,” said Evans today. “To swap the [World Champion] rainbow jersey for the yellow jersey is a rare honour.”
Evans, unlike two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador (Astana), does not have a strong mountain team. Yesterday, he was left with only Steve Morabito prior to the final climb up Avoriaz.
Now, with the yellow top, Morabito and Evans’ other six team-mates will be called on regularly to ride at the front and defend the lead. Their work starts tomorrow, after today’s rest day, with a mountain stage to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
With Evan’s crash yesterday in the opening kilometres, he is taking his rest day literally. He rode for a few hours and then received physiotherapy for his sore left arm, injured in the crash.
“But my legs are still going,” added Evans, “which is the important thing right now.”
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