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Former Tour de France and world road race championship winner Cadel Evans has confirmed reports that he is bringing his career to a close, with the Australian rider saying that he will hang up his racing wheels next February.
The BMC Racing Team rider announced his future plans at a press conference held at the world road race championships in Ponferrada, Spain, on Thursday, listing the final races he will take part in and giving his thoughts on what is an emotional decision.
“I feel it is the right time to end my journey in competitive professional cycling,” said Evans, explaining that the realisation that he no longer had the capacity to win Grand Tours was a factor in the decision.
“It has been the journey of more than a lifetime, something I could never have envisioned when first experiencing the joy of riding a bike on the dirt roads of Bamylli (Barunga) in the Northern Territory. It is amazing how far two wheels can take a person.”
The 37 year old said that he would compete in the world road race championships on Sunday plus Il Lombardia. The latter will bring his 2014 season to a close, but he will then gear up for two final events; the Santos Tour Down Under next January, and the new Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on February 1.
He will then transition into a new brand ambassador role for his current team’s title sponsor, BMC Switzerland.
Evans had hoped to win the Giro d’Italia this year but after starting strong and wearing the leader’s Maglia Rosa, he faded and eventually finished eighth overall. His Vuelta a España performance was quieter again, with the rider finishing a distant 52nd overall. He did however help team-mate Samuel Sanchez take sixth.
Evans rode well in other events, though, netting a stage and second overall in the Santos Tour Down under, winning a stage plus the overall in the Giro del Trentino and finishing second in the national road race championships.
He was also a double stage winner plus sixth overall in the Tour of Utah.
Those performances suggested that he could do another season at a high level, even if Grand Tour victories were no longer realistic, but he has decided to go out early rather than racing the whole of 2015.
Team president Jim Ochowicz complemented Evans on his career and said that his departure would take some getting used to.
“It is going to be a big change for us not to have Cadel racing with the team after his last race in Australia next year,” he said.
“We will miss his leadership and the high level experience and performance he brought to the BMC Racing Team. Both Andy Rihs [the BMC Racing Team sponsor] and I extend our thanks to Cadel for all he has done for the team and look forward to continuing our work together with him into the future through his role as an ambassador for BMC Switzerland.”
Rihs said that Evans had made a significant contribution to the development of the BMC product and brand identity, and that his link to the company and the sport would be prolonged via his new role.
Thanks given; hints that rainbow jersey could change things:
A former mountain bike World Cup winner, Evans turned to a pro road racing career after the 2000 Olympics and has been involved in that area of the sport since then.
He said that there were many who had helped and supported him during that time. “I would like to thank some people. To my family and friends who mean the world to me, thank you. The coaches I have been fortunate enough to work with, thank you. To the teams I have represented and the team mates I have ridden against and trained alongside, thank you.
“A special thank you to my current and final team, BMC. We believed in each other and consequently conquered the Tour. To my mentors who know who they are, thank you. To my sponsors who believed in me and supported me through the good and the bad times, thank you. And to the many fans and people around the world who just enjoy riding a bike. Thank you and keep riding.”
Ochowicz also expressed thanks, saying that Evans had played a vital role in helping the team grow from a Pro Continental setup to a Tour de France-winning squad.
He hinted that one result could change Evans’ decision: a second career rainbow jersey.
“I hope he wins,” he said, referring to Sunday’s road race. “Of course, if he does, we will have to have another discussion on what the future looks like.
“Certainly, being world champion does have some issues that need to be discussed. But it is a good problem to have.”