Evans Hoping The Sky’s Not The Limit


by Justin Davis

PARIS, July 23, 2012 (AFP) – BMC team manager Jim Ochowicz has played down
suggestions that the team sent to defend Cadel Evans’ 2011 Tour de France
title was not up to the job.

But the evidence, after Bradley Wiggins led a rare 1-2 for Team Sky to
leave Evans nearly 16 minutes off the pace, suggests the American-Swiss outfit
will be going back to the drawing board.

Although questions were raised about Evans’ pre-race form following a busy
year off the bike and a comparative lack of success off it, Team Sky gave the
Australian rider no chance.

They came armed with a team of climbers who had trained for setting an
intense pace on the climbs. Ironically for Evans, two of his compatriots —
Mick Rogers and Richie Porte — were among the most efficient at that task.

Wiggins sat on their slipstream as they hauled a gradually dwindling
peloton up the climbs at a pace that effectively stymied attacks.

“When we were riding on the front at 450 watts (of power) or whatever,
someone would attack and Mick Rogers would say ‘just leave him, he can’t
sustain it’,” Wiggins said.

The Briton, a former three-time Olympic pursuit champion, then left his
rivals trailing, Miguel Indurain style, on both his time trial wins.

As has often been the case, Evans had scant support on the climbs. To boot,
he was upstaged by American teammate Tejay Van Garderen, who went on to finish
fifth and win the white jersey for the best placed rider aged 25 or under.

But individually, he was also below par, losing nearly eight minutes to
Wiggins over the prologue (6.4 km) and time trials of 41.5 and 53.5 km
combined.

The morning after Evans had dropped to 9:57 adrift, Ochowicz rejected
suggestions that BMC had erred on their game-plan.

“That’s the style they (Sky) want to do, we have our own style,” he told
AFP.

“We have different ideas about how we want to race and each team needs to
do the race the way they think they need to do it.

“If we had some other opportunities maybe we could have changed the outcome
but it wouldn’t have had to have been necessarily racing the style that they
do racing on the front.”

At aged 34 in July 2011, Evans was among the oldest yellow jersey
champions. But he is already looking at 2013.

“I’ll come back again 100 percent, better than this year, that’s for sure,”
Evans said Sunday on completion of his eighth Tour.

“I think I still have the capability to win. It’s always up to me in the
end and that’s what matters most. I think I’ll be a bit hungrier next year as
well.”

Both Evans and Ochowicz believe BMC will have to alter their approach. The
route for 2013, when the race celebrates its 100th edition, is unveiled in
October.

Talking of his teammates, Evans added: “I enjoyed being with them and
working with them but of course after the success of last year, it wasn’t what
we hoped for and certainly wasn’t up to the level of last year.”

Evans, who fell sick with stomach problems on stage 16, the penultimate day
in the mountains, added: “When you’re having a bad time, you’re sick or
something in this sport, when it’s one of those hard days in the mountains,
you know it’s the hardest sport on earth.”

And Van Garderen says he is not abandoning Evans yet.

“He’s been dealing with some stuff during this Tour but I still think he
has another Tour win in him and if he can come back next year and win it, I’ll
be happy to help him,” he said.

Ochowicz admits Sky’s performance has raised the bar.

“They’re a good team. They’re going to be a challenger, it looks like, for
the next years to come,” he said.

“But other teams will challenge them. I don’t think anyone’s going to have
a dominant position in this sport. We’ve got to lift ourselves up to and
figure out what we do to come back here.”