DENIA, Spain (VN) – Cadel Evans likely will miss some of his traditional stomping grounds this spring in an all-out bid to win the 2011 Tour de France.
Evans told VeloNews that he will likely skip both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the world championships as part of his revamped racing schedule that will include fewer racing days and a larger focus on the 2011 Tour.
“This year I will race a little less and put all of our eggs in one basket,” Evans said. “I probably won’t race the worlds this year, because the course isn’t really suited for me and Australia will have plenty of strong sprinters to bring to Denmark, so there’s no point in taking me. I’ll probably skip Liège and race Tour de Romandie. Liège is such an intense effort and I want to race well at Romandie.”
The moves reflect a new focus on the Tour this season for the BMC captain, who turns 34 next month.
Evans said his aim to arrive “fresh” for the Tour and suggested he might enter July’s marquee event with as few as 30 days of racing in his legs, a relatively light number for Evans who has consistently been one of the peloton’s most dogged and consistent performers year-in, year-out, racing up to 50 days ahead of the Tour.
“We’re taking more a traditional approach to the Tour this year, which means racing fewer days and using some of the other stage races as preparation for the Tour,” Evans continued. “I usually arrive to the Tour pretty tired, and that’s not good for a three-week stage race as hard as the Tour.”
Unlike last year, when he showed off his rainbow jersey at the Tour Down Under and raced all the way through the Giro di Lombardia, Evans will not make his season debut until March.
“I probably got asked 200 times a day why I wasn’t racing the Tour Down Under this year, but people don’t understand the Tour de France is the one race of the year that gets remembered,” he said. “It’s a long time from January to the Tour.”
He’ll open his season at the Giro del Friuli in early March and race on the strade bianche at Eroica, over similar roads where he won a spectacular stage during the 2010 Giro d’Italia.
Then he’ll largely focus on stage racing to prepare for the Tour, with starts at Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie (which he won in 2006) and the Tour de Suisse. The only spring classics on his schedule are Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, where he’ll line up as defending champion.
After the Tour, he’ll reload for the Vuelta a España with the intention of doing well in the overall classification.
“Last year, we didn’t know if we were going to be selected for the Tour or not, so we went to the Giro and raced hard. This year, we know we’re going to be in all the big races,” Evans continued, explaining the significance of BMC’s ProTeam status. “I like to race and race a lot, but it’s fatiguing to go to those races in the spring like the Ardennes and Pais Vasco to try to ride for GC. Not a lot of people have done that the past few years and then done well in the Tour, maybe Valverde and Contador.”
BMC management supports the new Evans strategy. Sport director John Lelangue said the team has signed a new bevy of riders to help Evans get back into contention at the Tour after two years out of the top-20 overall that have been marred with crashes and bad luck.
“We are building a strong team around Cadel. The Tour is going to be his main objective of the season,” Lelangue said. “Everything we’re doing now will be aimed toward bringing the best group for July.”
Evans believes he still has a shot at winning the Tour and wants to give it his best shot.
“I don’t want to end my career, twice finishing second, and never focused one year concentrated completely on the Tour,” Evans said. “I’ve never gotten to the Tour fresh, if I can do that, I’d really be happy.”