It was no surprise to read that Cadel Evans had signed with another team. Evans was contracted with Silence-Lotto through 2010, yet there were plenty of rumors floating at the end of the 2009 racing season about a possible team change. The surprise was signing with a Pro-Continental team. A team that did not have a guarantee slot in the Grand Tours.
“BMC is a Pro-Continental team, but it’s a very good team and it is very well organized,” stated Evans as he explained his decision to sign with BMC Racing Team. “For me it was a good step to perform better. Maybe I don’t get a start in the Tour de France this year, but I am willing to take that risk. I know that we are not guaranteed a place in the Tour of France this year. At the same time, we are not obliged to do as many races which may give us a better Tour, if invited. We have less riders but we also have less races. It’s all about quality and not quantity.”
“It’s up to the race organizers and up to us to prove to the world that we deserve a place. If we really do deserve a slot, but don’t get a start, then that will be frustrating. It’s a challenge and I am looking forward to working with these guys. I am sure the organizers of Paris-Roubaix would like to have Ballan and Hincapie in their race. I am sure that Amstel would love to have Karsten Kroon. Having the rainbow jersey doesn’t hurt either. If I don’t ride the Tour then I have to take my wife on a holiday. That is an agreement I have with my wife.”
Evans was very attracted to BMC’s “modern” approach to training and team management. When asked to define modern Evans stated, “many teams keep following traditional training and traditional race programs. These teams are doing things the same way and are being left behind. New training, new techniques, new technology are giving riders an advantage. I think this is where Lance changed the way we ride. He took what people thought were small areas and took them to a higher level. The end result made him better. I like the idea of being open minded…. to new techniques and to new ways of racing.”
“This is an American managed team,” continued Evans. “The newer teams are more modern….like Columbia, Garmin, BMC, Sky. They all take an open minded approach to cycling. That’s probably the biggest difference. One other major difference is that this team not only looks at what you can do physically on the bike, but also personality wise, how do the riders fit on a team. This is big for me. A lot of teams do not take this into consideration. It’s not a priority. Liking the people you are riding with is important. You work better when you like the people you are with.”
Evans’ 2009 racing was certainly filled with mixed results. Tipped for a third consecutive podium finish leading into the Tour de France, Evans failed to meet his own expectations and finished 30th on general classification. Evans then looked to the Vuelta for redemption and found more heartache. In a disastrous day at the Vuelta, Evans suffered a puncture on the penultimate climb that wiped out his chances of finishing with the leaders. Frustrated with his season, he rode the World Championship race with confidence and determination.
“In summary I would say that it was season of perseverance…but perseverance pays,” said Evans of his 2009 season. “I think the rainbow stripes show that. I really thought I did everything I could in 2009. I didn’t get injured and I did all of the training, but things were not coming together or falling in place. The Vuelta was a perfect example of that. How much more prepared could I be and for something like that to happen with the puncture and the tire. It became such a ridiculous chain of events. The TV cameras stopped to film it all, which blocked the traffic, which in turn blocked the car from getting me the spare bike. It was just ridiculous. But then there was only one thing that could have made up for it and that is for everything to go right for me at Mendrisio. To win the world championship was very satisfying, but after 15 or 16 years of trying, and for it to happen in almost my hometown, after the year that I had, made it so much more worthwhile.”
Interestingly, it was counter attacking a small leading group at the foot of the Navazzano climb that sealed Evans’ world championship win. Whether justified or not, Evans has long been labeled as an overly conservative rider, a rider unwilling to attack. With one bold attack on September 27, 2009, in Mendrisio, Switzerland, Evans’ critics were silenced.
“To the people who are not informed, who keep saying that I do not attack, it was good that the attack stuck and that everyone was able to see it” said Evans about his fateful counter attack. “It all fell into place and went right for me at that race.”
“I would say that I am a fairly calculating rider. One thing that is a bit of trap…the press is always commenting that I need to be more aggressive and attack…for me it’s just making talk. I get judged by what position I finish in the Tour de France. I don’t see the point in attacking people who are stronger than you or who will chase you down, or who have team mates who will chase you down. Then you get dropped which will compromise your results. I do know myself. I have a fair idea of what my capabilities are and I use what I can to get the best results.”
“One attack at the World Championship and you get to wear the rainbow jersey all year. 20 attacks at the Tour de France and you get to wear the yellow jersey for 24 hours,” commented Evans while laughing.
“Being on this team…has a lower stress level than other environments I have been in,” commented Evans when asked about his history of confrontation with the media. “I am actually a quiet and calm guy. When the press sees me in France, it’s a very stressful situation. You shouldn’t judge me on a five minute encounter. One thing that really impressed me when I signed up here is that everyone knew what their roles would be. Everything is very well planned. It leads to a much better situation when you know what is going on. I know what I am doing, what needs to be done, goals to be completed. It adds to your quality of life and the stress level has been fantastic.”
“It’s an honor to wear the rainbow jersey. It’s good for cycling to have the rainbow jersey up front at the Grand Tours.” Though the Tour participation is still not known, Evans plans to ride the Giro d’Italia. “The Giro first and foremost and hopefully the Tour. I am going to the Giro for results.”