by crankpunk. this article originally appeared on The Roar.
Sometimes as a journalist you have to admit that you got it wrong and take off the hat (it’s an English flat cap, grey tweed) and shove it in your mouth. I think that’s part of the reason for the expression “…I’ll eat my hat”, as the process means there’s far less chance of more ill-advised thoughts escaping the perpetrator’s lips.
This situation was brought about by a certain Cadel Evans, a gentleman that you may have heard of before, just possibly. Just seven days after I wrote ‘he can’t win the Tour Down Under’ he goes and destroys a field full of extremely good bicycle riders, making grown men with hair on their legs (well, they could if they wanted) look like juniors. I’d like to claim that Cadel reads The Roar and was irked by my dismissal of his chances, but there’s little chance of that (not him reading The Roar, just that there’s no chance of him giving a toss what a journo says), but it was all about him just being never less than real, proper class.
Seeing him gasping and gaping for air in the last kilometers as the chasing group tried to reel him in showed just how much he wants this 2014 Tour Down Under General Classification.
He said at the end whilst talking to the taller half of the Liggett and Sherwin comedy duo that “we’re only really here for the GC, that’s what I’m all about”, and his muted celebration proved just that. You’ve got very good and very experienced riders in there in the form of Gerrans, Porte and a raft of other guys, but no one’s got what Cadel Evans has: the experience of challenging for and then winning one of the three Grande Tours, and,indeed, the biggest one of all, the Tour de France.
Orica-GreenEdge were going for it, wanting to keep Gerrans in the leader’s jersey , but there was no holding Evans on the climb and once he opened up on the descent – another sign of his huge wealth of experience and of his MTB background – he was gone.
He hasn’t given up though, despite now being 12 seconds behind, and was bullish (and a little brusque, truth be told) after the race when he said “I don’t think we’ve ever seen the leader, in the last couple of years, who has the leader’s jersey early manages to win it. It’s not going to be easy for Cadel. We’re going to throw everything at him, that’s for sure.”
Richie Porte of Sky, who’s now 33 seconds down in 11th, sounded, to just about anyone who watched Evans rip the race open and with it take the lead, much more realistic, happy now it seems to just be targeting the podium. “Cadel was absolutely flying, I tried to go with him. In those hairpins, I couldn’t stay with him, and he got away. It’s a little disappointing, but Saturday is another hilltop finish, I am quite hopeful we have the team to at least get up there on the podium,” said Porte.
Robert Gesink too has accepted the superiority of the Aussies and in particular Evans.
“In the end, Cadel remained just a bit too far for us” said the Belkin GC rider. “It was a difficult day. We are still up in the front. That’s how cycling works, you keep trying to win something, so you look forward to the next opportunity. Cadel was impressive, he’s in the best shape now, and so are the other Aussie guys.”
Evans didn’t win here because of a bit of luck. It was a stone cold killer move, executed with the wise old poker player’s hand, and played to perfection. It showed that he is the strongest here, and, barring calamity, I’ll bet you a hat he’s gonna take the GC home…
But then, what do I know?