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As he crossed the finish line in Geelong on Sunday, in the inaugural race named in his honour, Cadel Evans called time on a professional cycling career that had lasted two decades, most of it on the road. It had been a long an illustrious career with victories in two of the biggest bike races on the planet – the Tour de France and the Road World Championships – and many more besides. In this piece we look back at some of those memorable moments and reflect on the career of Australia’s greatest ever cyclist.
Cadel Evans’ story is well known. He was a champion mountain biker in the early part of his career, winning a couple of World Cups in the late 1990s and finishing seventh on the dirt at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Despite focusing his attention on mountain biking in those early days, Evans showed great promise on the road as well.
A break-out performance at the Tour of Tasmania in 1999 – when he won on the mountain-top finish to Mt. Wellington — famously prompted Phil Liggett to claim that Evans would one day win the Tour de France. The veteran commentator was right, but it would take Evans more than a decade to get there.
It was several years until Evans make the switch to the road full-time, joining Saeco in April 2001. He rode with Mapei-QuickStep in 2002, before joining Telekom in 2003, which became T Mobile in 2004. From 2005 through to 2009 Evans rode with the Lotto setup, initially known as Davitamon-Lotto before becoming Predictor-Lotto (2007) and then Silence-Lotto (2008-09).
After winning the World Championships in late 2009, and in search of greater support for his Grand Tour ambitions, Evans moved to BMC in 2010. He would race for the US-registered team right up until his retirement last week, netting a whole host of victories along the way. None of them were bigger, of course, than the 2011 Tour de France, a victory that will go down as one of the greatest-ever achievements by an Australian sportsperson.
We hope you enjoy the following selection of memorable moments in the long and decorated career of Cadel Evans.
The following video shows Evans winning his first MTB World Cup race in Wellington, New Zealand, en route to finishing third in the series overall:
The video below shows Evans winning the 1998 World Cup race in Silves, Portugal on his way to winning the series overall. He would go on to win the MTB World Cup the following year as well.
The following is a moving career retrospective put together by Cycling Australia:
And here is a selection of photos from Evans’ long career (primarily on the road):
After his first season on the road with Saeco in 2001, Evans joined Mapei-QuickStep in 2002. In his first ever Grand Tour, the 2002 Giro d’Italia, Evans would wear the pink leader’s jersey for one stage, signalling his promise as a Grand Tour rider.
Evans joined Team Telekom in 2003 (left) which became T-Mobile in 2004.
It was in the colours of T-Mobile that Evans won the 2004 Tour of Austria. He won the second stage of the race …
… then defended the yellow leader’s jersey …
… all the way to the end of stage 7.
After moving to Davitamon-Lotto in 2005, Evans won stage 7 of the nine-stage Deutschland Tour, going on to finish the race in fifth overall.
Evans stayed with the Lotto setup right through to the end of 2009. The team became Predictor-Lotto in 2007 and then Silence-Lotto in 2008.
At the 2008 Tour de France, on stage 10, Cadel Evans got his first chance to wear the yellow jersey of the race leader.
He wore yellow for five stages, until stage 15 (pictured here) when fellow Australian Simon Gerrans won to Prato Nevoso and the overall lead went to Frank Schleck.
A win on Alpe d’Huez on stage 17 saw Carlos Sastre take the overall lead and hold it all the way to Paris. Evans finished second overall, 58 seconds behind Sastre.
Evans represented Australia at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, finishing 15th in the road race.
He also competed in the Olympic time trial, finishing fifth.
Evans’ teammates in 2009 included Johan Vansummeren, Matthew Lloyd and Charly Wegelius.
He won the prologue ITT at the 2009 Dauphine Libere on his way to second overall. It boded well for Evans’ Tour de France ambitions.
But the Australian had a forgettable Tour that year, finishing 28th.
Cadel Evans’ personal bodyguard and Belgian policeman, Serge Borlee, was a common sight during the 2009 Tour.
After finishing fifth on stage 8 of the 2010 Tour de France Cadel Evans was briefly in the overall lead, but a fractured elbow (from a crash early in the stage) saw him drop out of contention and finish 24th overall.
In the 2011 Tirreno Adriatico Cadel Evans won the final stage …
Evans won stage 4 of the 2011 Tour de France en route to winning the race overall.
On stage 18 of the 2011 Tour, Andy Schleck set off on a long-range attack that would see him win the stage by more than two minutes and take the overall lead.
Cadel Evans almost single-handedly dragged a chase group through the Alps to minimise Schleck’s lead.
But it was the stage 20 ITT where Cadel Evans secured his overall lead. Andy Schleck had been leading by 57 seconds going into the stage but Evans pulled back more than 2:30 on the Leopard Trek rider to win the race overall.
Evans won the opening stage of the 2012 Criterium du Dauphine before going on to finish third overall. In the Tour de France that followed, he reached as high as second on the GC, but faded in the Pyrenees to finish seventh.
Evans was one of the favourites at the 2013 Giro d’Italia and after the stage 8 ITT he moved into second overall. He held that position until the penultimate stage, pictured here, where he lost time to Rigoberto Uran who moved into second. Evans finished the Giro in third, becoming the first Australian ever to be on the podium in all three Grand Tours.
Cadel’s adopted son Robel has been a common sight at races since 2012. Here he is pictured at the 2013 Tour de France, where Cadel faded badly to finish outside the top 50.
“Crikey Cadel” has been a long-time supporter of the Australian cyclist and has been present at races around the world.
Cadel Evans put in a blistering attack on Corkscrew Road on stage 3 of the 2014 Tour Down Under …
… and after a masterclass of a descent he crossed the line in Campbelltown to win the stage. He could arguably have won the race overall had he been more measured with his aggression later in the Tour.
Evans won stage 3 of the 2014 Giro del Trentino en route to overall victory in the race. It was the last stage-race victory of his career.
Evans wore the maglia rosa for four days at last year’s Giro d’Italia.
But a third place in the stage 12 ITT saw him drop to second overall. He would fade slightly in the last week, finishing eighth overall.
The 2015 Santos Tour Down Under was Cadel Evans’ last ever stage race. He went into the race with hopes of winning but in the end it was his teammate, Rohan Dennis (in the background) that won overall. Evans finished third.
And in his final race, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Evans made the elite selection of nine-riders and sprinted for fifth place. The race was won by Gianni Meersman.
And thus ended the long and illustrious career of Cadel Evans. There’s no doubt he will be missed.