Tour de France - Evans ready to end yellow jinx
Sat, 23 Jul 20:07:00 2011
Wearing the yellow jersey in the past never brought luck to Cadel Evans but the Australian appears to have broken the jinx at last after seizing the Tour de France lead one day before reaching Paris.
"The first time I took the yellow jersey was in Hautacam in 2008. Only 24 hours earlier I was lying in a curve with my skin peeled off all over wondering if I was going to get back on my bike," said the 2009 world champion, who is on the verge of becoming the first Australian to win the world's showcase cycling race.
"It was a nice surprise. But it was a long way from Hautacam to Paris and it was not as successful as I certainly hoped."
After finishing second that year behind Spaniard Carlos Sastre in a Tour everybody expected him to win, he became disillusioned with his career due to the battering his body received.
"I suffered so much with my injuries it was the hardest Tour I ever rode," he said.
Last year, the former mountain-bike specialist, who switched to road in 2002, again took the yellow jersey after a mountain stage in Morzine-Avoriaz but crashed and broke his arm in the process, losing all hopes of Tour victory.
It is probably why the man who, at 34, should become the oldest Tour winner since 1923 on Sunday, waited till the last moment to pull on the prized garment and kiss the toy lion offered to the race leader.
"Fortunately this year, we're close to Paris", said Evans, tearful on the podium when receiving the jersey he will wear all the way to the Champs Elysees.
Evans carefully avoided seizing the reins when he could have, lying one second behind Norway's Thor Hushovd in the overall standings for most of the first half of this edition.
Was it because he was superstitious?
Evans believes it is down to his experience.
"This is the result of a lot of planning and experience. This is my seventh Tour de France and not having bad luck has been good to me," he said.
"When things go wrong, I get nervous. This year, we really planned things very carefully, not only what I did on this Tour, but from training camps to the equipment.
"For the engineers to deliver the time trial bike it took two years of hard work for example."
Now only a 95-km ride separates the Australian from the ultimate prize in his chosen field.
"I must concentrate on the job ahead. By the time we get on the Champs Elysees, I'll begin to understand what's going on in the world outside," he said.
TDF itw arrivée Cadel Evan