LIEGE, Belgium - Agence France-Presse
Australian rider Cadel Evans says he has left last year’s good memories behind and is now focusing on the 2012 Tour de France, which is set to start on June 30
BMC Racing procycling team rider Cadel Evans of Australia (L) and teammates cycle during a training session in Liege, Belgium. EPA photo
Australia’s Cadel Evans has consigned the happy memories of his maiden Tour de France triumph to the history books as he prepares to defend his title on June 30.
With two long time trials on stages nine (41.5 km) and 19 (53.5 km), the BMC team leader is set to face a formidable challenge from on-form Briton Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky.
Wiggins, a fourth place finisher in 2009, rebounded in style from his early exit last year when he suffered a broken collarbone by posting a series of impressive results in major stage races.
A third place finish at the 2011 Tour of Spain was followed by victory at Paris-Nice and he followed up by winning the Tour of Romandie then successfully defending his Criterium du Dauphine title.
Evans has had a less successful season but the Australian said he has not been resting on his laurels.
“I’ve had a bit of a quiet start to the 2012 season, but that’s okay. I’ve got a lot of racing to come in July, and after July as well,” said Evans.
And the Australian has put the satisfaction of last year’s triumph to the back of his mind and followed a training regime designed to make him peak for the crucial third week of this year’s race. Title defense
Coupled with the same, disciplined approach that BMC had last year, Evans is hoping to become the first man to successfully defend the title since Lance Armstrong in 2005.
“It’s still satisfying to think that we did it in 2011. But that’s history now, and we’re looking to ultimately repeat in 2012,” added the Australian.
“When you’ve had one in the bag it’s there, but now it’s history, I look forward to the future and to 2012.”
Along with BMC, Wiggins’ Sky team is one of the strongest in the race and will look to use those strengths to keep their respective leaders protected, out of the wind and free of the kind of mishap that can end their races early.
Two-time runner-up Evans’ previous bids for the yellow jersey have been hampered by crashes in previous campaigns. And after last year, when several contenders, including Wiggins, and outsiders crashed out of the race, he knows only too well how unforgiving the Tour can be.
“They all tell me Wiggins is the man to beat, but we’ll see out on the road. Three weeks is a long time and a lot can happen,” he said.