Home' The Wellingtonian : July 28th 2011 Contents 19
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JULY 28, 2011
Evans does Aussies proud
Thumbs up: Cadel Evans celebrates victory in the Tour de France.
Cyclist Cadel Evans is the
ultimate Australian sports
The Aussies like their cham-
pions tough, rugged and with a
streak of independence. Evans fits
the bill perfectly.
Before his heroics in this year s
Tour de France, it was starting to
look as if Evans, for all his guts
and determination, might never
win the big one.
He d finished second twice, in
2007 and 2008, but seemed
bedevilled by bad luck -- illness,
injuries, crashes at the worst
times. Cycling aficionados knew
how good he was -- he has after all
won the world road race title -- but
he s 34 now and the march of time
Evans, though, has always been
one to overcome adversity. Hell,
he was even born (in Katherine,
Northern Territory) with a broken
When he was eight he was
kicked in the head by a horse and
fell into a coma. Doctors hoped he
would walk again. He s done way
better than that.
Throughout this year s tour,
Evans was magnificent.
He received tremendous sup-
port from his BMC Racing team-
mates, but when he needed to do
it himself, when his team-mates
had fallen away, Evans was brave
enough and good enough to take
on the Schleck brothers, Alberto
Contador and Thomas Voeckler
and chase a breakaway group, or
bridge a gap by himself.
There are, of course, clouds over
the Tour de France. Ever since the
first tour, in 1903, there have
been problems with drugs.
Early riders would take alcohol
and ether to dull the pain. Gradu-
ally the drugs got more serious.
Briton Tommy Simpson died dur-
ing the 1967 race and it was
revealed that he was powered up
on amphetamines and alcohol.
In 1998 there was the Tour de
Shame, when police raided
cyclists hotel rooms and
uncovered vast amounts of
banned substances. Each year,
including this, cyclists are ejected
from the tour after failing drugs
American Floyd Landis won the
2006 tour in fine style, then had
his title removed when the drug
tests results came in. Hanging
over all else is Lance Armstrong,
winner of seven consecutive tours,
but never able to shake off persist-
ent doping allegations.
Despite the drugs, though, the
tour remains one of the world s
great sports events. The time it
takes -- nearly three weeks each
July -- and the countryside it
traverses, plus the courage and
daring of the riders, makes it com-
In its early days there were no
hills, bizarre as that now seems,
but there were day-night stages.
Until about 1930 individual
riders also competed. They were
called touriste-routiers (tourists of
the road), though even then teams
I admired Evans this year. He
was tough in the mountains, sen-
sible but aggressive throughout,
and rode brilliantly in the final
competitive stage, the 42km time
But even Evans doesn t match
my all-time Tour de France cham-
pion, Belgian Eddy Merckx, who
not only won five tours, but a
record 34 stages (Armstrong, by
comparison, won 22).
In 1969 Merckx won King of the
Mountains and the overall tour.
He was an all-round rider of
The tour has produced famous
champions, such as Bernard
Hinault, Miguel Indurain and
Jacques Anquetil, besides Arm-
strong and Merckx. Evans
deserves to be mentioned in their
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