Cadel Evans has made a career of surpassing the cycling world's opinion of what he is capable of.
He did it again today.
|Solo ride: Cadel Evans wins stage three of the Tour Down Under. Photo: Getty Images|
After a dismal performance in the 2013 Tour, many had written off his chances of truly competing at the highest levels of the sport. At 36 the general consensus was that his best days on the bike were behind him and while nobody was calling for him to hang up his cleats, there were more than a few - myself included on this very blog - who opined that it was time for him to take a back seat to the younger talent on the powerhouse BMC team, such as Teejay van Garderen and Brent Brookwalter.
He quickly showed signs of bouncing back with a stage win in last September's Tour of Alberta, but Brookwalter was the top GC man for BMC finishing second in that race. Later in the year he announced that he would target the 2014 Giro in an effort to finish 2 steps higher on the podium than his 3rd place in 2013. Eyebrows were raised and tongues wagged at that announcement and whether it meant that the BMC TDF captains seat would be filled by the young van Garderen. The later was confirmed just a week ago with the announcement that Teejay would in fact have the full support of the factory squad behind him at the start line in the Netherlands.
So what happens next? Cadel does exactly what you would expect and wins the first tough stage of the year against top level talent in his home race - The Santos Tour Down Under. It was a vintage Evans attack - something he doesn't get enough credit for - up the legendary corkscrew climb that completely detached the young Aussie climber Richie Porte with a brutal attack with 1k to go from the summit and then set a blistering pace down the back side and over the flat remaining section to the finish. He powered his way and held off the charging pack and crossed the line with a muted fist pump that should signal to the pack that one of it's stars has no intention of fading off to the back of the pack.
If his early season form is any indication, he should have plenty of fight left by the time May rolls around and he takes to the roads of Italy. It should also signal to Teejay that he'll have one beast of a lieutenant backing him in July... and he better be ready to take full advantage of that kind of support.
Take a look at the Thomas Foods stage 3 highlights of todays racing: