PARIS (AFP) — Cadel Evans credited five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain for inspiring him in his quest for cycling’s holy grail, the final maillot jaune awarded to the race leader on the Champs-Élysees.
“As a young child we aspire to a lot of things in life, and watching the Tour de France in 1991 and seeing Indurain tear everyone to pieces planted a small seed in my head that continued to grow,” said Evans.
“It’s been years of hard work and there were a lot of moments in these three weeks where our Tour was lost, but to get here safely with all my skin … just that alone is a quest in itself.
“But to be here wearing the yellow jersey — for my team, my country, a group of people around me — it leaves me a little lost for words.”
Evans, who finished runner-up in both 2007 and 2008, said he “went through some difficult periods.”
“For two years I was really unlucky, coming so close to winning, but maybe it’s just made it all that more special now,” he said.
Also special was the appearance of Australian pop star Tina Arena, who stepped up to the podium to sing the national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair.”
Speaking in French, an emotional Arena said afterwards: “For Cadel to come to Europe and spend so much time chasing his dream shows what he is made of. As Australians, we’re very proud of what he has achieved.”
Evans added: “I was a bit surprised that Tina Arena came out to sing the anthem, that was very nice of her. … to stand on the Champs-Élysées with an Australian singing the national anthem … it’s not a dream that comes true for many Australians.
“This win is for everyone in our country. It’s amazing. I hope I’ve brought a great deal of joy to my countrymen. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to fly the flag over here.”