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Evans: Giro d’Italia glass half full

POLSA, Italy (VN) — Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) looked for the positive side of losing out on the overall title at the Giro d’Italia on Thursday afternoon. Despite slipping further back in today’s stage 18 uphill time trial, he maintained good spirits and an eye on the Tour de France.

“The glass is half-full, yes,” Evans said after changing out of his rain-soaked skinsuit. “As a professional, as a competitor, I want to win, but the thing about bike racing is that you start with 200 and there is one winner and 199 losers.”

Evans placed 25th in the 20.6-kilometer test, 2:36 back from the race’s overall leader and stage winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Evans now sits second overall, at 4:02.

He sat, cold, ready to go to the hotel to reflect on the Giro. The 36-year-old at one point had been within striking distance of Nibali and the overall win. He said that he is used to these difficulties.

“That’s something you have to learn as a bike rider … It’s something you have to learn to live with,” Evans said. “There are two ways to look at this: I was second place in the Giro at 30 or 35 seconds and maybe I can win this Giro, but at the same time I came here to come back to my best to recover lost days of racing due this illness and so on last year. In that regard, it is not something that I should be kicking myself in the backside for.”

Evans suffered last year. As defending Tour de France champion, he could only manage seventh. It wasn’t until after the race and a stint in the U.S. that he realized a virus had sapped his fitness.

The setback put Evans on the back foot coming into 2013. To be certain to be ready for the Tour, he and BMC Racing’s staff decided to race the Giro d’Italia.

Not only did he find his legs, but he challenged for the Giro’s overall win. As he said, Evans has reason to be happy.

“I came to this Giro with high hopes but not high expectations. My real objective was to give my best at the Giro and at this point, I have made a few mistakes but nothing big. So in terms of giving it my best, it’s great,” Evans said. “But when you are near winning you want to be winning, and that is where your hopes might rise above your capabilities.”

Evans’ woes and podium hopes

Evans suffered in Thursday’s 20.6km time trial. He said the short stages featured in the 96th edition of the race do not favor him.

“The time trial was a lot worse than what I expected,” he explained. “I gave what I could, but I saw in this Giro that when there are short stages, like above Bardonecchia and today, I’m not at the level of the best.”

A podium is still within reach, but it will be a hard fight. Rigoberto Urán (Sky) sits only 10 seconds back and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) is approaching, at 1:12. Two mountain stages await, with Friday’s rerouted leg to Val Martello finishing atop a 22km first-category climb and Saturday’s 20th stage set to conclude on the Tre Cime climb.

“Of course second is better than third place, and fourth is a pretty horrible place to finish in a Grand Tour,” Evans added. “But at this point, relax, recover, and look to tomorrow.”

Evans the fighter is also looking to the Tour with a big Giro base under him.