DENIA, Spain (VN) — No green jerseys, no bunch sprints. Come July, it’s all for Cadel Evans for BMC’s newest superstars Thor Hushovd and Philippe Gilbert.
The pair vows they will sacrifice their personal ambitions during the Tour de France to help Evans make a run for a second-straight Tour title.
“It’s fairly clear when it comes to the Tour de France what our objectives are,” Evans said Thursday at BMC’s team camp in Spain. “It’s ‘all legs in one basket.’ Those guys (Hushovd and Gilbert) will be sacrificing themselves for me.”
Some see the high-profile arrival of Hushovd and Gilbert to BMC as a possible conflict for Evans, who struggled earlier in his Tour career while racing at Lotto to gain the full backing of the squad.
Having the full support of BMC was critical to Evans’ Tour victory last year and many have wondered if Gilbert and Hushovd might be tempted to ride for their own success come July.
That discussion has already played out behind the scenes, with team directors and management making it clear to the newest team members that defending Evans’ yellow jersey will be team’s top priority in July.
But both Gilbert and Hushovd said they understand that message and promise to dedicate themselves to helping Evans make a run for a second maillot jaune.
“It’s easy when it comes to the Tour — Cadel is the defending champion and our main goal is to win the Tour.” Hushovd said. “We — Philippe and me — we have to sacrifice something and we knew that when we signed with BMC.”
That means giving up on chasing the green jersey or using riders to try to bump elbows in the bunch sprints.
Hushovd has twice won the green jersey, but admitted that he won’t have that freedom to chase the points jersey this year if Evans has a shot at winning the Tour. The big Norwegian insists that’s not a problem.
“I have never been on the Champs-Elysées with a team wearing the yellow jersey,” Hushovd said. “I would like to experience that. We will all work to help Cadel.”
Gilbert, too, vows to pocket his personal ambitions come July, especially when it comes to the green points jersey.
“We have already spoken about that,” Gilbert said. “We have no interest in the green jersey this year. You have to fight for it every day. Thor and I will do everything for Cadel, to help him, to support him, to win the yellow jersey again.”
Gilbert admitted that the start in Liége will present a once-in-lifetime opportunity to chase the yellow jersey on home roads.
Evans says that having the experience and strength of Gilbert and Hushovd will only make BMC stronger for the flats and transition stages, something that proved critical during the 2011 Tour that saw scores of GC favorites crash out as everyone fought for position on narrow roads.
“It will be advantageous to have these guys on the team,” Evans said. “Having Phil chasing the jersey in Liege is not a problem for me, so long as it doesn’t compromise my goals. Having those guys at the front of race will help. I am really looking forward to racing with Phil and Thor.”
Gilbert and Hushovd, of course, will be expected to carry the load during the spring classics. Perhaps that’s where a conflict of interest of having too many leaders on one team might come into play than during the Tour.