TdF 2011 - Part II
In the summer of 2000, I got a phone call from Tony Rominger: "There is this MTB vice-world champion, Cadel Evans, who would like to pass onto road racing. Since he's earning already quite well from his MTB activity, I'd like to know whether he has the skills to consider dedicating to road cycling full time and risk such a jump."
It is always difficult and chancy to answer similar questions, but I eventually agreed on testing him on the road in St. Moritz.
After a 1-hour warm-up, we met on the Albula Pass at 1800m of altitude: Evans rode a stretch of 100m of total difference in height several times, at increasing intensities, checking the times, the heart rates and the lactic acid concentrations.
His VAM at 4 mM was 1780 m/h, an excellent value considering the oxygen deficit due to altitude.
I had him repeat the same test after 4 additional hours of riding, climbing the Albula and Julier Pass, with the purpose of checking his performance over distance: the result was a VAM = 1820 m/h, even better than the first test, probably because of the slight weight loss from the ride.
I therefore called Tony, who was Cadel's manager, and told him that in my opinion they could make an attempt and jump to road racing.
Today, eleven years later, Cadel Evans destroyed his rivals in the only ITT and rightfully took the victory in a Tour de France that was clearly designed to favor climbers, once again confirming that it takes complete riders, strong on all grounds, to win this race.
The Australian cyclist personally defended from the attacks of the climbers, limiting the damage in the Alpine stages, where we saw the tactical suicide by Voeckler, who persisted in chasing, alone, for more than 1 hour, Contador and Andy Schleck on the Telegraph and Galibier: had he waited the group with Evans and four (!) Europcar teammates, he would have probably been on the podium in Paris.