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Why not me? Cadel Evans


Our generation's Poulidor or a candidate for glory? [edited in light of Dekker's being thrown under the bus on the way to Monaco.]

Why he will win:

The course favors him.  He out-grintas Menchov and can ALMOST hang onto Contador's most lethal mountain attacks.  The only problem for Contador is that there aren't that many mountains suited to his style, so advantage to the Diesels.  The Team Time Trial is short enough--and early enough in the race--that his team won't be a serious liability.  His team, for once, is actually built around him, as opposed to his being the after-thought to Robbie McEwen.  With my pollyana glasses on, I'll even assert that Thomas Dekker's exclusion--and his replacement with Wegelius--improves Evans chances in the overall.  Removing Dekker removes a rider of questionable dedication and sporadic performances in favor of a consummate professional who--while NOT a Chris Horner--is a solid climby domestique.

Another reason Evans will win:  He will be there just waiting to pick up the pieces after the Astana implosion or explosion.

Why He Will Not Win:

The last 10 kilometers of stage 17 of the 2002 Giro d"italia from Corvara to Folgaria.  Evans, through no fault of his own, wound up being Mapei's leader due to Stephano Garzelli's positive for Probenecid.  Remember--this was 7 years ago: Evans had just crossed over to road racing from a successful MTB career, and he was just supposed to help out Garzelli.  But once in rosa, he gave everything he had to become the first Aussie winner of the Giro.

I re-watched this stage today (lotta rain = roller workout).  Knowing what to look for, I came away with renewed admiration for Evans.  He was clearly suffering like a dog by 15k to go, but he suffered it out for another 5k until he just imploded.  Hamilton saw him lose Cioni's wheel and attacked, which opened the door for what turned out to be the winning GC move by Savoldelli.  Evans bobbed-and-wove his way up the climb, losing 17 minutes in 10k.

My point: Such a colossal blow-up scars a psyche; it causes one to ask questions at times requiring total commitment.  Whether I'm correct in identifying that moment as the ultimate source of the stress, the past couple of tours have provided ample evidence that Evans does not handle the stress of being a podium contender well.

Beyond the personal level--there are still immense questions about whether or not Silence-Lotto--especially the management--have the abilities requisite to bring home a GC victory.

While no one should dis-respect the level of effort and commitment Evans brings to his racing, unless he addresses his mental limiters he will not be getting his flowers on the top step of the podium in Paris.