Two days ago, VeloNews, among others, reported that Australian Cadel Evans intended to ride next year's Centenary Giro d'Italia. The Agence France Presse report from which most on Planet Cycling drew their stories quoted Silence-Lotto DS Roberto Damiani. Said Damiani, "He [Evans] will ride the Giro in the same way (Alberto) Contador did this year, being patient, before laying down his cards in the final week." Little wonder that VeloNews chose to run the story. Unlike many wire service articles, this one included confirmation from a real person. There seemed little reason to question that Evans would in fact ride the Giro.
Yesterday, came word that it was all a lie. Cadel Evans told Cyclingnews that he had no plan to ride the Giro and that his principal objective remained the Tour de France. Evans blamed the race organizers for the mistake. Always the master of press relations, Evans said:
I didn't announce I would be riding the Giro, the organisers did. I am not riding the Giro next year, my focus will be on winning the Tour de France in July. They announced I would be riding because they want publicity for their race. I have never said I would ride the Giro.
Today, the story takes another turn. Confused by the disparity between the Evans statement and Damiani's comments to the AFP, Tuttobiciweb decided to do a little legwork of their own. They called up Roberto Damiani. Damiani told Tuttobicweb that Cadel Evans will ride the Giro d'Italia. Said Damiani, "I do know know anything about this statement [from Evans], it is definitely a surprise" Damiani then confirmed that he and Evans had discussed the rider's 2009 program, a program that definitely includes the Giro d'Italia. Explained Damiani:
I discussed his program for 2009 with Cadel before he returned to Australia: In that program there was the Giro d'Italia, and Cadel will be at the Giro.
Again, clear confirmation from Damiani that the team expects Evans to ride the 2009 Giro.
Plainly, Evans and the Silence-Lotto team management have less-than excellent lines of communication. Or, Evans has a horrible memory. How else to explain his apparent ignorance of his scheduled appearance at a grand tour - not just your average run of the mill race - for the coming season? It's also clear that he does not read the press especially carefully. Had he read the story about his plan circulating in every cycling publication on the planet, he might have noticed the source of the story: his own DS. Instead, he blasted the race organizer for misleading the press about his intentions. l'oops. Some riders obviously handle the press better than others. But really, Cadel, you need to do a little better.
How do the Giro organizers feel all this silliness? Zomegnan talked to the British Cycling Weekly, and it's clear he is not pleased. Zomegnan explained that the plan for Evans to ride the 2009 Giro actually originated back in 2007. As Zomegnan understands it, Marc Sargeant, Roberto Damiani, and Cadel Evans all discussed the project and agreed to pursue it. According to Zomegnan, Silence-Lotto and the RCS agreed to announce the news on 10 December, exactly the day the AFP story hit the wires. The RCS is not especially pleased by Evan's comments to Cyclingnews. Said Zomegnan, "While we want to maintain a good relationship, I can't avoid saying that the accusations of acting in bad faith are unacceptable. During its 100 year history the Giro d'Italia has never needed to use Evans' name to get publicity and doesn't need to do at the present." Did he just say that the races make the riders? Expect a slightly chilly welcome for Evans in Italy.
In any case, Silence-Lotto has now confirmed that Evans will ride the Giro. So, he'll be there. Unless he can convince his team management otherwise.
Quicky Update, Saturday: Today's press reports now say that Evans will not ride the Giro d'Italia, contrary to the statements of team management. Perhaps as one observer suggested, he could use some help from Dekker's lawyers, as the relationship between Evans and Silence-Lotto is plainly not well.