SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE, France (AFP) — Defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans said he won’t give up his battle for the yellow jersey despite slipping further down the Tour de France hierarchy on Thursday.
“Every time I lose time and the further I slip back the chances of the win are diminished but we’re still in with a chance, and for that reason I’m not going to give up,” said Evans (BMC Racing) at the start of the 12th stage Friday.
Two days after losing nearly two minutes to race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the stage 9 time trial, Evans suffered a first big setback in the mountains when he lost 1:26 to the Briton at La Toussuire. Evans rode straight through the finish corral to his team hotel at the Alpine the ski station and did not answer reporters’ questions.
From sitting second at 1:53 behind Wiggins, Evans dropped two places to fourth to start the 12th stage 3:19 behind the overwhelming pre-race favorite.
Evans launched an audacious bid to attack Sky and Wiggins 60km from the finish on Thursday’s 11th stage, before being brought to heel and then paying for his efforts 5km from the summit finish of La Toussuire. It was further proof of Sky’s superiority. The squad has raced so fast as a team that it is near impossible for rivals to attack and, crucially, sustain their efforts on the flat or the climbs.
Yet is was also clear Evans simply didn’t have the legs on the day. “I wasn’t at the level that I needed to be, and paid for it in the end,” he admitted.
“It’s frustrating. Fortunately, that’s behind us now and hopefully that will be the last of the disappointments of this Tour.”
Although nine stages remain, few will allow Evans to close his gap to Wiggins — unless the Englishman suffers the stage racer’s biggest fear of an off-day or, worse, a crash.
While there are
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