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BMC’s Cadel Evans Gets PEZ’d!

Cadel Evans wants to win a “Grand Tour” to add to his World Championships and he is changing his season plans to accommodate his ambitions. He tells us about his plans for the coming year, recaps 2010, his Tour and his Christmas, maybe too many subjects to cover… but we will try!

Last to be grilled at the BMC January training camp in southern Spain was Cadel Evans, but this was less a grilling and more just a nice casual chat. I think some people have the wrong idea about Cadel, he’s a nice guy, he’s genuine and funny, and I think under the circumstances of where he is in cycling he does a great job hearing and answering the same questions all the time (like my opener…)

PEZ: Was it a big wrench not to ride the Tour Down Under?
Cadel Evans:
No, no, I rode it last year and not ridden it since 2003, so I don’t know why people keep asking me about it.

PEZ: It’s your home Tour!
Cadel:
Yea, but there is April, May, June, July and September.

PEZ: Do you get much flack about not riding?
Cadel:
Well, most people say “yea, we want to see you win the Tour” people who understand and follow it, “yea that’s fair enough, we’d like to see you at the Tour Down Under, but we would like to see you win the Tour.” Then there are other people that are like; “I’ve flown all the way from Sydney and you’re not here!” Oh God! My main thing this year was, because my wife is Italian, to have Christmas with her family in Italy … that was my main thing on a personal level. That’s what decided it. I’m a son and a husband as well as a bike rider. Seriously it’s a great race, but our season is so, so long and no one that was at the start line at the Tour Down Under was at the start line at the Tour of Lombardy last year, I’m sure. I don’t think many of them were at the Worlds last year.

PEZ: What is your build up to the Tour?
Cadel:
At the moment it’s looking like Tirreno, Cataluсa, probably Amstel, Fleche and maybe Tour of Romandie, there or there about. At this point in planning we start with those. My first race will be Friuli and the Eroica before Tirreno, I like those white roads, for no other reason. It’s a little bit less racing than I have done in the past, but it’s still a pretty solid season. But, it would be unrealistic to expect to be as good as I was early last year, but I’ll take it as it comes and see what happens.

PEZ: So it’s Tour and Vuelta?
Cadel:
Probably, yea. It looks like La Vuelta…one Tour at a time!

PEZ: Will you ride Liege?
Cadel:
We’ll see, maybe Romandie… probably Romandie I’d say.

PEZ: How are you feeling so far?
Cadel:
Thanks for asking! Quiet! Well you have a bad Tour and a bad Worlds and everyone leaves you alone, no one cares what you do, and who you are and you can have a normal life, no it’s been real nice. I’ve had my first Northern Hemisphere winter/Christmas. That was a new experience for me, a white Christmas that was new for me it was fantastic! We had a lot more time to plan and prepare the year for the team and I think the experience the team gained in the last year (not that I had any doubts in them) but also the team has been strengthened not only on the rider side, but also the management, organization and logistically. Two new directors, I don’t know Rik or Max very well yet, Max Sciandri and Rik Verbrugghe, but I’m looking forward to working with them, interesting people to work with. New recruits on the rider front, I’ve really cracked with the guys and yea, I hope they have some early success to get the momentum going for the team.

PEZ: Which of the new riders are you excited about?
Cadel:
I’m rooming with Yannick here, can’t say his surname yet! Eijssen. That young guy has so many questions and he is so motivated. Hopefully I’m giving him good advice and passing on the right experience and so on, but he and Tim Roe are young guys and hopefully we can help them work better. Taylor has in some respects developed as a rider, but he is also the youngest rider on the team and hopefully between us (other riders and the directors) we can harness their ability in the right direction and get it on the results board.

Then for the races I do, Ivan Santaromita lives about 5 kilometres from me, just over the border in Italy, other than seeing him out on the road training I didn’t know him so well before and it’s been a pleasant surprise to get to know him, he’s really ambitious and he seems really happy to be here, like all the riders seem really happy to be here. It’s great to be back with Greg van Avermaet again; Quinziato as well, probably for the Tour de France, the team time trial and the guys for the mountain stages will be the guys who will have the biggest influence on my results, at least.

PEZ: You say you have never gone into the Tour fresh; does this team give you more space?
Cadel:
I think we have a lot of faith and trust, me with the team and the team in me. The team is also happy that I like to race a lot, but sometimes that in itsself is a bit a…. It’s fatiguing to do a good Ardennes week and then go for the GC at the Tour of Pais Basque and go there for the win and the Dauphine, it’s really quite tiring. The other guy who has done it in the past is Contador, you don’t often see podium places at the Tour at the head of any races, except maybe the Dauphine or Switzerland. Like Lance has done in the past, twice second in Amstel I think, but otherwise you don’t normally see the Tour guys before then, where as Contador, Valverde and myself have probably been about the only ones in the mix, we go for wins in the Ardennes or stage races earlier in the year.

PEZ: Is it going to be an easy transition racing that way?
Cadel:
I don’t know, I tried to do it once before in 2003 and it didn’t work at all! So again with a little bit more experience and maturity…we’ll see!

PEZ: What went wrong in 2003?
Cadel:
Nothing went right that year, one year I go in the “groupetto” and everyone is going “what are you doing here?” I’m human! I’ll work towards bigger goals and change the mentality a little bit, 10 years as a professional; hopefully I’ve learnt something and after all the years mountain biking!

PEZ: Was this your idea?
Cadel:
Yea, John and I and the whole team started talking about it probably around June or July last year for 2011 and my idea at that point was to race a little less and to put more of my eggs in one basket, and talking with Aldo Sassi as well. So between the three of us, but mostly from me it comes from, but the team; Jim and John and Andy, the main people in the team who have an influence on the direction on the team: “What would you like to do?” that’s great, certainly I get free reign, giving me free reign isn’t a bad thing as I seem to be ambitious from January to October.

PEZ: How did the loss of Aldo Sassi affect you?
Cadel:
On a personal level a great deal. He did so much; I don’t think there are many people in the world who understand how much he has done for cycling, especially in the last few years. Since the closure of the Mapei team, he’s done great things for cycling. On a personal level as well, I was really lucky to be working with him and the whole Mapei centre, it’s a great facility and all the work we have done is just coming through.

For me the greatest thing for me, I was able to do was to pin on the number with the Mapei logo at Mondrisio and give Georgio Squinzi a photo of me on the podium with the Mapei logo in the background there, with the signed rainbow jersey of course, was probably the greatest thing I could have done for Mapei as a whole structure and for Aldo as well. He lived about 6 kilometres away from Torratza, the climb I went away on and he actually went back that evening or the day after and measured it all to calculate everything that a physiologist can calculate. He told me he rode it six times on his bike with his altimeter to measure the distance and everything. But to be there and to ride to the finish line with him there, with all the things we had been through over the years, he was always the one person who stuck by me of the years, as a professional cyclist there aren’t many of those people.

PEZ: You must have been have been with him a long time?
Cadel:
Yea, we first met at the end of 2001 and I’ve worked with him since I went to Mapei in 2002, previous to that I worked with a mountain bike coach, for the period when I was a mountain biker. And now Andrea Morrelli, who’s worked with Aldo since the early 90’s.

PEZ: The Mapei centre is going to continue?
Cadel:
Yea fortunately, with all the work spent building it up it would be a real loss, in Australia we are lucky enough to have Government funding to build facilities like that, in a few years time Australia will have as good a facility as the Mapei, in Italy strangely enough, just down the road in Varese. But in Italy they wouldn’t have anything like that; Berluscone likes to put his money somewhere else! I won’t say where! I don’t want to know!

PEZ: You say you feel more comfortable in this team, is this where you success comes from?
Cadel:
I think it could be because the team comes from America, the American mentality, its more open minded and more accepting of different cultures, I think it probably comes from there. It comes from the top, John is French/Belgian or Belgian/French, and I think he lives on a street that it’s Flemish on that side and French on the other side. I call him French/Belgian, but he has a very American mentality and he speaks with a little American accent. They let you be yourself, which is nice.

PEZ: Would you say that last season was your best on the road?
Cadel:
If I didn’t have bad luck; illness at the Giro and a broken elbow at the Tour, it certainly would have been! Other than that it was still good, I had good GC in both of those races and UCI points towards the end of year ranking, I say we prepared really well that season, it was one of my most enjoyable seasons on the bike; new team, rainbow jersey and everything, working with new people and everything and it could have been a fantastic season, but it was a good season and a very enjoyable season.

PEZ: Did you know the elbow was broken or not until the X-Ray?
Cadel:
No I didn’t know it was broken. It was right at the start, a stupid little crash happened, someone fell right in front of me. The peloton was a bit broken up and I didn’t know who was riding, the crash happened at 6 k’s and I didn’t get to see the race doctor until 45 k’s, it didn’t slow down until then. He said; “its fine, it’s not broken, take an anti-inflammatory, you’ll be fine.” We stopped a little later on, just quickly, and John and Jim were there; “what you want to do?” Keep going, stick to our plan and take the Yellow Jersey, I’m glad I did because next day we went to take an X-Ray just to be sure. It was Jacques Micheau who arranged with a small radiology clinic in Morzine that we could go in the back door and no one would see us.

You can imagine, if I was seen going into a radiology clinic, what they would say! They called the doctor out, oh shit, this doesn’t look good! They looked at the x-ray and that explained that I had broke my elbow, my whole arm killed like hell, but I couldn’t feel anything in the bone here (elbow). It explained why everything was sore, it’s pretty normal. Any little bump you get in the Tour you notice it because you are at your limit trying to recover every day and a little trauma through the body just amplifies things.

PEZ: As you are racing less, could this mean less success? Are you scared of that?
Cadel:
Not really, putting all your eggs in one basket, yea something can go wrong, but also I don’t want to retire from my career thinking that I got three times second at Tour or even two times second at the Tour; “maybe if one year I had concentrated on the Tour?” my manager; Tony Rominger was the same when he started off his career, he would win left, right and centre, but he said “hang on a second, if I concentrate on one thing!” On the Tour he got his greatest success.

As a bike rider, the Tour Down Under just being on, I get asked about that all the time. It’s strange, you get asked so much of you during the season, but then it’s; “now it’s the Tour, you have to be good!” OK there is the Tour Down Under and some races in February and March and a GC here and then go for the Ardennes, then you get to May… I had a couple of days off after Romandie or the Ardennes week, I didn’t get off my couch for four days because I was just exhausted and then; now I have to train hard and now I have to be good. But it’s funny when you get to the Tour there is so much focus on it, it’s the one race of the year, other than if you win the World Championship, it’s the result that gets remembered for an entire year, nearly all the other races it’s forgotten by the next week. It’s a bit annoying; coz in the classics there is a big race every three days.

PEZ: Are the changes with equipment technology for the better?
Cadel:
Everything we do now with BMC with equipment is the same as what we did as mountain bikers, we switched to SRM this year with wireless and now with electronic gears, when it works it’s great, I just haven’t seen a battery go flat yet, which hopefully won’t happen. To me the technology was improving…was improving…was improving, it got real light and real flimsy and now it’s come back again and it’s solid, but good. Since I’ve been a rider, since ’92 or ’93 and now it’s coming back again. “Ah yea, I like this, it’s a bit heavier, but it lasts!” which is the way I like it too.

PEZ: OK; what about race radios?
Cadel:
I don’t mind whatever happens. I don’t think it changes the racing as much as most people think.

PEZ: What about safety?
Cadel: Yea, I think it helps a little bit there; there are a lot of roundabouts on the roads. But then some other riders say this and I agree sometimes, the race radio will say there is a dangerous roundabout ahead and all the directors will say “dangerous roundabout ahead, go to the front!” So everyone is fighting to get to the front, if you don’t have a radio, you don’t get nervous and you are careful all the time.

PEZ: But the director doesn’t have to come up the road in the car and shout.
Cadel:
Yea he doesn’t have to come up the road, but they have been doing it for years, but now it’s harder to do that, there are more spectators and there are more traffic islands and things on the roads now. Villages now, especially in Germany and Holland there are traffic islands on the side and in the centre and everywhere. Maybe you could argue that cars are better with ABS and stuff.

PEZ: It worked for years without radios.
Cadel:
It was a bit a transition going to the Worlds, you don’t know your team mates, Matt Hayman was my guide who was looking after me, but I think he’s good at his job, but I don’t know, there was a little bit. It wasn’t much of a transition, it went from race radio to nothing, at that race I don’t know the team director or the team… not like you know your own team mates that you are with all year. Yea there were a few nervous teams there, that’s for sure.

PEZ: Will you do the Worlds this year?
Cadel:
I don’t think so, I think for Australia there are guys like Renshaw that can a much better job than I can on a course like that.

PEZ: So you’ll do the Vuelta and then Lombardy?
Cadel:
Maybe, let’s see? I always seem to get called up; I live 10-20 kilometres from the start of Lombardy, so I might as well go eh? It’s what usually happens in the end.

So there you have the world according to Cadel, lots to say and all good stuff, thanks Cadel, it was fun!

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