What's Cool In Road Cycling

Tour Winner Cadel Evans Gets PEZ’d!

Tour de France winner, World champion and new father – what more could Cadel Evans want from life? Well, he wants to do it all again, the Tour and the Worlds bits anyway, much less paperwork involved. A lot has happened in the life of Cadel Evans in a year, time to be PEZ’d.

We interviewed Cadel at the recent BMC training camp, and as far as I can tell, the success of a Tour win hasn’t changed him. He still likes to joke and the interview was light-hearted with a tinge of seriousness, especially when talking about his hoped for repeat Tour win for this year.

PEZ: Last year you were in good form in March and April and then again in July, is that something you want to repeat this year?

Cadel Evans: Absolutely, I think in the past years I have shown I can ride at a high level for a reasonable period of the season. I think we had a good plan going into last year heading into the season. Tirreno-Adriбtico came as a bit of a welcome surprise – we trained well, we prepared well in the off-season, and we started the season really well and of course I think a success there right away gives motivation to the riders and also a lot of confidence to the guys who are running the team and it served well. This year, I’ll go to Tirreno with hopes, but no big expectations and then July is really what it’s all about, and when we really start to be serious.

What’s not to be happy about for Cadel Evans?

PEZ: Will you be a bit more concentrated on July this year?

Cadel: No, about the same.

PEZ: Do you think there will be more pressure on you this year at the Tour?

Cadel: Everyone around me was convinced I would win the 2008 Tour, but I thought there are a lot of things that could go wrong there. I’ve been through all that before now and that part will be helping me out. The team being there, being around me in the peloton and the people behind the scenes being there will take a bit of that pressure as well. I don’t feel the pressure. There are expectations, but no one’s expectation are higher than my own.

PEZ: Do you feel that you are more relaxed this year now that you have won the Tour?

Cadel: It certainly helps. When you haven’t won it, you are always thinking that maybe you can win, maybe you can win. When you are 33 or 34, time is running out, so they tell me. Having won once you know you can do it, for us it is a case of going through the same process again. Of course, it’s a different race, different teams, different contenders, different challenges to overcome, and different tactics.

PEZ: How much longer do you think you can race at this level?

Cadel: I’ll be 35 next month, so I’m not the youngest rider in the peloton. I think for this year and next year and looking at all the parameters right now, I think I’m still at a good level and will continue at a good level. Probably after 2013, I’ll look at the results of the Tour and all the other races and the other parameters that you have to consider when you are planning these things and decide if we continue in the Tour or other races.

Cadel finishes off his incredible ascent of the Galibier to keep Andy Schleck within reach and set up that unforgettable time trial.

PEZ: What would you do after cycling?

Cadel: I have no idea. As long as its productive and satisfying I don’t really mind what I do, but at the moment, I don’t know what that would be.

PEZ: What has been your motivation for cycling?

Cadel: I’ve gone through many things for motivation, if it was travel or transport or sheer enjoyment or for the freedom of a three year old on the first BMX, but now it’s also to be an elite sportsman. To compete at an elite level you have to be quite elitist about it, and you have to go training every day for a certain purpose, and it becomes, in some regards, quite digital. But I love being on my bike and the feeling of freedom. That’s what probably attracted me to it at age three and still today that aspect of it is still there. If things get too busy, I’m quite happy to go off training. It gets me away from the other stresses we have in life, but most of all, as a bike rider now, my first goal is to perform well. However, my enjoyment comes from; one, performing well also going through the process, testing myself and improving.

PEZ: How does it feel to hear that two of the best riders in the World, Hushovd and Gilbert, will ride for you in the Tour?

Cadel: Pretty good! Phil was the Number 1 in the World last year, the year before that; Thor the World champion, so they are the best riders in the World when they are at their best. I’ve been a teammate with Phil before, and I really like to race with him. As a fan of cycling, I really like the way Phil races and as a teammate I like to race with him, because he’s good and successful. He has a great attitude to racing, he just loves to race. Thor – it’s our first time together as teammates, but of course I’ve seen him for a long time, sometimes I raced against him, but not often directly against him. He’s been World Champion in the past, and you hear a lot about riders over the years, but I’ve only ever heard good things about Thor, so that says a lot about a cyclist.

Evans has support in spades from his BMC Team – from the likes of Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd, to the most successful teammate in Tour de France history…George Hincapie.

PEZ: Are you happy with all aspects of the team? Like the new climbers?

Cadel: Tejay (van Garderen) and Cummings are great riders and Tejay in particular is an underrated rider at the moment. I saw him first-hand on the stage to Super Besse last year and saw what he was capable of. Every day he was riding on the front for Cavendish. With us, he will have the opportunity to ride the terrain that suits him, and he will get opportunities in his own races to ride for himself of course. Then Steve Cummings has had a few injuries and health problems last year, but that is where we looked to strengthen our climbing. In the Tour de France you also need strong guys, rouleurs. In 2012 we don’t have a team time trial, but you need guys who are suited to that kind of racing, because not all the Tour de France is mountainous. No team can be as good as the combination of the Schleck brothers together – they are two of the best five climbers of today and the combination of two brothers racing…well, I don’t have a brother, so there’s not much I can do about that.

PEZ: What was the best moment of your Tour victory?

Cadel: Probably the last 5 kilometres of the time trial running down to the finish, it was probably the best moment of my year. It was unbelievable actually. Normally, when you are riding the last time trial in the Tour de France you are searching to empty every last bit of energy, but I was just floating away on the pedals. John (Lelangue, team DS) stopped giving me time checks on Tony Martin, which was a little disappointing as I was second, but it was an amazing feeling, quite an unbelievable feeling. They were telling me to slow down on the downhill bits. When I saw it on TV later it was a bit scary!

The time trial that netted Evans his first Tour de France overall victory.

PEZ: Do you think the BMC team is getting a bit top heavy?

Cadel: We will have to see in the races, but I don’t think so. We needed to strengthen the team for the Tour de France. To be a defending champion is potentially more difficult for a team and we needed to strengthen our team, but no I don’t feel that.

PEZ: Is your build up for the Tour the same as last year?

Cadel: Yep, pretty much, it’s identical I think.

PEZ: Is the Tour the only aim?

Cadel: I’ll test myself in some of the early races, but normally depending on selection for the Olympics and so on, after the Tour we’ll see how things go into London and see what’s left in the tank and so on.

There’s plenty to like about this year’s Tour de France route for Cadel Evans.

PEZ: The Worlds course will suit you, and it will also suit Gilbert.

Cadel: Yea, but in the Worlds I’ll be riding for Australia. I’d like to get there and be good, but the Tour and the Olympics? It’s a big year already for me to get there, but in my mind, if I can save a bit from the first part of the year to be better later in the year… My Tour de France in 2011 and post Tour de France was a bit of a unique situation – going back to Australia and rushing off to America and so on. I think going to the Olympics and being a little bit more planned and programmed for that period should leave me with a bit more energy. Also I like the fact that Lombardy is a bit earlier and a hilly Worlds with riders like Phil and myself means that we can be much more competitive.

PEZ: Would you consider going for the Giro or Vuelta for the win in the year to come?

Cadel: One day I want to go back to the Giro.

PEZ: You will be going back to the Tour de France this year as defending champion, will it change the way you ride?

Cadel: No, in 2008 many people expected me to win the Tour, so I kind of went there as a favourite, but when people have those kinds of expectations around you it can change you. For 2012, we go to the Tour as a team and we’ll try to repeat what we did last year with a similar process. The race will be different, but we’ll be more prepared because of our experience last year. We are more confident.

Evans on the top step of the podium in Paris.

PEZ: Would you say you have become more self confident over the last five years or so? Is this something you have been working on?

Cadel: Well, I’m always working on winning more races, that’s my job. Every day of my year is geared towards that. I think my approach to things has changed. Sometimes that was forced upon me, and sometimes I’ve been allowed to do what I’ve wanted. Particularly in the last two years it’s what I’ve wanted and what I’ve felt was correct. If there has been a change it’s been because I’ve been very well supported these last couple of years going into races and especially the Tour de France. Last year we had a great team and a great programme and for most part of the year. The lead-up went well and the Tour for us came together so well. I think for the whole of cycling it was a pretty exciting Tour. To come out on top it has its own euphoria around it. Personally I don’t feel it’s changed me so much, it’s a relief that for sure. I’ll be going back with similar intentions and a similar work ethic and try and get the same result.

PEZ: Is Contador the biggest danger to you? (This was before the CAS decision)

Cadel: Normally yes, but the Schleck brothers and the strength of the RadioShack-Nissan team. Maybe the time trials will be their problem, let’s see. With more time trials you have guys like Wiggins or Leipheimer coming in the second part of the race. Don’t discount someone like Andreas Klцden who on a flat time trial can bring back lots of time. He has been on the podium in years gone by, whether he has the ambitions or the intensions I really don’t know. The first half of the Tour I can see it’s like a modern Tour and the second half like the more traditional Tours with big long time trials and so on. I think Indurain could just about win it in the time trials, but we still have that first half of the Tour to get through.

Contador won’t be a factor in this year’s Tour de France – his suspension will keep him out of the mix.

PEZ: So many people thought you would win the 2008 Tour, did not winning put any doubts in your mind?

Cadel: No, I didn’t doubt myself. I wanted to have a go at the Tour and be well supported and not have so much bad luck. That’s all I wanted at the Tour. In 2010 I broke my arm, 2009 nothing went right. From 2008 onwards two years really went badly, but all I wanted was a run at the Tour without bad luck. OK in 2009 I broke my arm, but I still took the yellow jersey. We weren’t going so badly after riding the Giro and having a heavy early season it was really going well. No I didn’t have any doubts in myself.

PEZ: Your new son’s name is Robel, where does he come from?

Cadel: It’s an Ethiopian name, he was abandoned. When he was found he didn’t have a name, so the people who did his paper work came up with the name. It has taken two years for the adoption, it’s something we had been working on behind the scenes and now it’s happened, but that’s kind of obvious now when we are seen walking about with a baby! I was only home with him for four days and he’s only been home for twelve days now, so he’s still getting used to it. If you think he was found abandoned on the street at six month old to be in a home with heating and to be clean with doctors and everything… it’s a big change. He’s from Shashamane and he’s of Rastafarian origin, it’s a city in the south of Ethiopia.

The whole process takes a long time and you wouldn’t do it unless you were very motivated. In the end you have your meeting with the judge and that takes about 5 minutes. The paper work is done and the child is now yours, thank you. It happens like that and at that point there are a lot of emotions. Yea, it’s been an amazing process. Now we are learning about him and he’s getting used to us and growing up. There were seven questions we had to answer before the judge, it was yes, yes, no, yes, no yes, yes and that was it! There were two years before all that, so if there had been any problems they would have come up earlier.

For good and bad reasons adoption has become more difficult, but I think the problem of abandoned children will remain forever. Rulings and the responsibilities for taking children away from their own countries is becoming more and more strict and controlled and more difficult. It seems that compared to 20 or 30 years ago compared to now it’s very difficult to adopt a child.

Always upward for Evans and BMC.

PEZ: Before you went to court for the adoption hearings were you allowed to see him?

Cadel: Yes, for a few days we were going to the care centre, but we couldn’t take him out of the care centre until we were his parents. You go back from the court in a taxi and you can walk out the door with him, it’s quite bazaar. You go through all these years of paperwork and then the last bit you have to be ready, it goes really fast. It goes from OK and then that’s it, it goes really fast, next thing is…he smells, what do I do?

It’s been a busy year for Mr. Evans with one thing or another. He wants to copy his success for this year, and with the BMC Super Team, he has the backing he needs. Seeing as Seсor Contador will be on his enforced holidays, it might have got a little easier. His birthday was on St. Valentine’s Day and he received a wake-up call from the drug testers at 6am! Good luck, Cadel.

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