Embattled Evans bids to prove his worth as BMC leader
NAZARETH, Belgium, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans has recovered from the mental scars of last year’s race and is looking to rediscover his old form as BMC’s team leader.
The 35-year-old Australian was blown away in last year’s Tour by Briton Bradley Wiggins and the defending champion only finished seventh overall in a largely forgettable season.
“(In) 2013, I certainly hope that I’ll get back to my old level. That means playing healthy and riding at the front again and if I am at my best I think I will be well worthwhile for the team to ride as a leader,” Evans told reporters at BMC’s season launch on Friday.
Team mate and world champion Philippe Gilbert has the same aims as every year.
“To win… the big classics like San Remo, Flanders, Amstel and Liege,” the Belgian said.
The cycling world is currently waiting to see if disgraced American Lance Armstrong confesses to doping on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Jan. 17 after being stripped of his seven Tour titles following rider testimony that he took drugs.
However, last year’s best young rider on the Tour, American Tejay van Garderen, has had enough.
“I think Armstrong… That story has been going on way too long. I think it’s time for it to be over,” said the BMC rider.
Meanwhile, the team’s Italian former world champion Alessandro Ballan is recovering after a crash at high speed in December on a training run in which he broke his leg and a rib as well as having to have his spleen removed.
Thor Hushovd, another ex-world champion on the BMC team, recently spoke to Ballan.
“He’s feeling better and better but, of course, he went through a really bad crash and I feel sorry for him and his family, what he went through,” the Norwegian said.
“But hopefully he will come back to his former level. That’s his goal and that’s our team BMC’s goal.”