Cadel Evans has produced the ride of his life to become the winner-elect of The Tour de France.Evans grew wings as he ripped his way through the streets of Grenoble to rip the yellow jersey off the back of Andy Schleck to ride his way into the history books as the first Australian to win the Tour.
In an individual test of man and machine, Evans not only ground out a fabulous win, as he not only ate into the 57 seconds Andy Schleck enjoyed at the start of the day, he absolutely slaughtered the opposition for overall champion to record a time of 55min 40sec.
In a superb ride against the clock, the 34-year-old BMC rider destroyed Andy Schleck, who finished just three seconds ahead of older brother Frank, in a time of 58mins 11sec.
Evans will lead the survivors onto the Champs Elysees today by a whopping 1min 34 sec ahead of the field.
Evans, the runner-up in 2007 and 2008, will succeed Spain's three-time champion Alberto Contador who suffered a dramatic collapse in the Alps to all but drop out of contention.
HTC-Highroad's specialist Martin, who had started his race earlier in the day when the course was still drying after a spell of rain, clocked a winning time of 55min 33sec. Evans finished only seven seconds behind.
“This has been the culmination of 20 years of hard work,” Evans, said just before stepping up to the podium to receive the jersey.
“I still can't quite believe it. I don't think it will quite sink in until I cross the finish line on the Champs Elsyees in Paris.
“I began the tour three weeks ago wanting to do the best I could. I couldn't have done it without my team, they worked 100 per cent every day, even when I had a couple of bad moments.
“I came here to just wanting to do my best Tour, if I did that I always thought I could win it, but it wouldn't have happened without having ridden what I believe to be the best time trial ever, even though I didn't win it.
“I had (sporting director) John LeLangue yelling in my ear over race radio every day, but this achievement wouldn't have been possible without my team. It was a real team effort."I hope the people back home in Australia enjoyed it.”
After stepping down from the podium, speaking to SBS Television, Evans was quick to praise former coach Aldo Sassi, who died from cancer last year.
“Aldo Sassi said to me last year, that now that I've won the world championship (2009) you have turned yourself into a complete rider and now you can go on and win a Grand Tour and I hope for you it is the Tour de France.
“It was he who believed in me from October, 2001 and never for one day did he doubt in my own ability, he never gave up on me.
“We went through both good and bad. I had some bad moments in the last 10 years, but this makes the good moments even better.''
“Today I just came up a few seconds short for the stage, but in time I will look back and reflect on what I've just done.”
Author | Source | Peter Kogoy | The Australian | July 24