BREST (France): Australia’s Cadel Evans will saddle up as the Tour de France favourite this Saturday with a chance of making history — and settling some scores in the process.
Evans came agonisingly close to winning the yellow jersey in 2007, finishing only 23 seconds behind Spanish rival Alberto Contador in a race that, some argue, was artificially modified by the presence of Danish climber Michael Rasmussen.
This year Rasmussen and Contador are both absent, Evans with one main rival in Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and a less-fancied handful of other contenders.
It was Rasmussen’s attacks on stage 14, for example, that prompted Contador to follow the Dane and beat him to the finish line at Plateau de Beille in the Pyrenees. Evans struggled to follow, and at the end of the stage dropped a place to be third with Contador moving up to second overall.
When Rasmussen finally left, Contador took the yellow jersey.
This year’s 95th edition will also be missing Contador, whose Astana team was not invited because of doping controversies in the 2007 Tour while under different management.
Astana’s absence can only benefit Evans, who in his three previous participations placed eighth (2005), fourth (2006) and second (2007). — Agencies