Tour Guide Flashback – BMC Team Pages (2011)
RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. During the production period, we will be looking back at certain features from over the years.
In this flashback we take a look at the commentary on the BMC team from the 2011 Tour preview.
Flashback: 2011 – BMC Team Page
Evans: inspired, healthy, supported… successful!
It’s entirely different to when BMC made its Tour de France debut last year. From the start of the season the team knew that it would be part of the line-up; in 2010 there was no certainty – only the hope that the presence of the world champion would entice organisers to issue a wildcard invitation. That’s what happened but beforehand Cadel Evans was almost obliged to contest the Giro d’Italia, essentially to prove that his squad was up to the challenge of a three-week race.
The Australian would lead the Giro for a day, win the points classification and finish fifth overall. And BMC received its Tour invitation. Once there, Evans reminded everyone that he is one of the finest cyclists of his time: he was cautious in the prologue (23rd) and then brilliant on the cobbled roads of stage three, third behind the future world champion (Thor Hushovd) and Britain’s bright young hope (Geraint Thomas). He moved up to third on GC until the climb to Station des Rousses at the end of stage seven, when he was ranked second.
Then came the crash. A touch of wheels early on the second Sunday, and a long ride through the Haute-Savoie to Morzine-Avoriaz. Andy Schleck won, Evans rolled in 10 seconds later in sixth place along with the other GC stars: Gesink, Kreuziger, Contador, van den Broeck… and into the yellow jersey.
Although he was the race leader, he was also wounded. For the second time in his career, he was in the Tour’s yellow jersey but badly injured. In 2008, when he crashed early in stage 10, he climbed to Hautacam in the Pyrenees finishing one place behind Carlos Sastre. Back then he also took the maillot jaune on the eve of the first rest day. But that was when he was with another team, when the Tour was one race in a long season that Silence-Lotto wanted him to excel in. That was when he was in the prime of his racing days, with the number-one dossard on his back and the tag of favourite for the title.
Some say that was his best chance to win the Tour. Some now say that this year is his last chance.
Going on what Cadel has achieved this year, when the only pressure he’s had is to ensure that he remains healthy until July, it’s clear that age is not slowing him down. If anything he seems stronger than ever before. Success in Tirreno-Adriatico, followed by injury, then victory in the Tour de Romandie hint that the schedule mapped out by John Lelangue is paying off.
The Belgian team manager has won the Tour before when he was in charge of Phonak in 2006. But the title fell out of his grasp because of a positive test. He has unfinished business to attend to: it’s time to win the yellow jersey again… and keep it! With an inspired Evans, that’s possible in 2011.
The team is stronger than last year. The circumstances are different. The leader is ready. The preparation is done. Now it’s time to see if this chance is the best one for a rider who’s been close before – and is now really flying!
By Rob Arnold