Cadel Evans has the attributes needed to back up from claiming the first ever podium finish by an Australian in the Giro d’Italia and be a serious contender for the Tour de France, says former Irish cyclist Stephen Roche, who won both events in 1987.
Roche, who also won the world road race championship in ’87, believes Evans has shown enough in this year’s Giro, which finished on Sunday, to indicate that while he is not yet at his peak, he is on the right trajectory towards the level required for the Tour, which begins on June 29.
Roche rates Evans’ consistency in all facets of grand tour racing as his greatest asset.
”Cadel has never been able to ride the [Alberto] Contadors and the Bradley Wiggins off his wheel. His strength has been consistency. He is very persistent and tactically very clever,” Roche said before the 21st and final stage of the Giro to Brescia.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) claimed the overall win, beating Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Sky) by four minutes and 43 seconds, and Evans (BMC) by five minutes, 52 seconds.
”He isn’t the best climber, he isn’t the best time triallist, he isn’t the best sprinter,” Roche said. ”But he is one of the best all-rounders because he can sprint, he can time trial, he can be up there on the high mountain finishes. He is very clever, and he can sneak into a break and he can calculate [read races].
”I’m glad to see he has his old legs again. His age is probably on the wrong side of the barrier, but he definitely has what it takes for the Tour this year.”
Roche said it was vital that Evans focused on recovering between now and the Tour. ”I finished the Giro very tired mentally and physically,” he said. ”It’s not so important how much you do [after the Giro], but it’s important what you do. Cadel has to make sure he stays fresh.”
Evans, who raced the Giro-Tour double in 2010, when his results were marred by illness and injury rather than form and ability, agreed with Roche. ”After my last experience [in 2010], I am not even going to think about training; it’s all recovery,” he said.
”I have one or two professional appointments [after the Giro], but every day is going to count. You really have to be careful about recovery. Four weeks passes so quickly.
”I still might have to go and see one or two stages of the Tour that I haven’t seen, but it’s not just days of training [lost], but days of travel don’t help you recover.”
Rupert Guinness covered the Giro d’Italia as a guest of Eurosport.
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