It’s been an incredible year for Cadel Evans. His success a year ago in Mendrisio, Switzerland was a home win with his European home is minutes away from the circuit. Coincidently his Australian home is also minutes from the circuit in Geelong.
The world title in 2009 transformed him, something that’s been pointed out by many already but it’s worth dwelling on. He finally landed the big one that that had been eluding him, the nearly man of pro cycling became identifiable with a big win, especially since the victory in Mendrisio was so emphatic. From that moment onwards he’d go on training rides dressed in the rainbow bands, a visible sign of his pride. It also seems to have changed his way of dealing with others, a sensitive and private sort, he seemed to be under less stress to deliver and team mates reciprocally respected him. The title also gave BMC the incentive to buy him out of his contract with the Belgian Lotto team.
2010 turned into a beautiful season for Evans. The so-called curse of the rainbow jersey was broken. He started with a bang in the Tour Down Under when he made the decisive break with Valverde, LL Sanchez and Sagan. This early glimpse was confirmed with a podium finish in Tirreno-Adriatico. Then he shone in the classics, winning the Flèche Wallonne. On to the Giro d’Italia and he was one of the race’s protagonists, including the outstanding win on the stage to Montalcino,one of the highlights of the season, where he could be seen wiping the mud off his jersey for the cameras at the finish line. He held the pink jersey too and won the points competition. Then the Tour de France and the yellow jersey for a day. All this before a powerful defence of the title in Geelong. Indeed if the jersey has gone, he might still enjoy the Tour of Lombardy.
Thor Hushovd has a lot to live up to now but I suspect he’s capable. He’s a likeable rider – I’ve met him quite a few times – and is present all season long too. The only concern has to be how he is managed within the new Garmin-Cervélo squad but this is merely a luxurious dilemma.