Andy Schleck. Did he underestimate Cadel Evans?

Andy Schleck forgot about Cadel.

Did Andy Schleck fail to take Cadel Evans as a serious threat to victory?

Twisted Spoke doesn’t have a definitive answer to that question but can’t help but wonder. We suspect that Andy made the mistake of assuming the Tour de France was his once Alberto Contador lost time behind a week one crash and later banged up his knee.

Once his chief rival, the man who had beaten him twice to win the Tour, was out of the picture, he let down his guard. Who was going to beat him? While Ivan Basso and Samuel Sanchez would be tough in the mountains and Basso can ride a decent time trial, we don’t think Andy was worried about those two.

The question is whether he took Evans too lightly and too late in the game. Perhaps he assumed Evans would have his usual bad luck, a crash, an injury, a bad day. By the time he realized that the teeth-gritting Evans wasn’t going to go away, there was not enough time to gain more time.

The time trial and Grenoble came too soon for Andy Schleck. There seemed to be a cavalier attitude toward the Australian — strange given that the brain trust at Leopard-Trek knew exactly what Evans could do on the time trial course.

Perhaps it was the exact same case with Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler. Conventional wisdom was that he would lose the yellow jersey in the Pyrenees or at the latest, the first day in the Alps. He fought like a junkyard dog and kept it until the final ramps up Alp d’Huez. Evans seems to have benefited from being overlooked.

That kind of oversight is even more surprising given that from the first days of the Tour, Evans signaled he would be aggressive and race hard for the win. His attack against Contador on stage four’s Mur de Bretagne should have made that crystal clear.

Still, Andy and Frank seemed to smile their way into the Alps, confident that the Tour would drop in their laps. Evans and Voeckler would fade, Basso would fall back and that was that.

Cadel Evans has become a different rider since he won the world championship road race. It appears that the Brothers Schleck thought they were racing against the old Evans.

They’re looking up to him now with a new-found respect. He’s on the top step of the Tour de France and they’re not.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email
  • IdeaStormer Jorge

    Evans is the 2011 version of Sastre 2008. Evans will now be slighted, forgotten, overlooked, and ignored, ex Tour champion. Next year will be about the Contador vs The Schlecks and every story will concentrate on that and Evans will be left out or just written in as the ex Tour champ in the last paragraph.

    You should know that by now, Evan has 0% news story punch compared to Contador and the Schlecks. Evans doesn't have the moxie to carry the virtual Yellow Jersey of le Tour on throughout the year.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      I think he proved he was a new guy after the Worlds. I don't think he's a Sastre. Carlos did absolutely zero after the tour win. Evans will far much better. I severely doubt he'll win another tour but he's still good for wins in big races, i think. Matt

    • killer hiller

      Uh, I'm pretty sure that if this tour showed anything, it showed that those that ignore Cadel get beaten by him. Cadel seems to keep himself, and doesn't make stupid comments to the press, which means he gets less of it. But he is a very, very good rider that knows how to win bike races. He's patient, calm and calculated. Evan's has no news story punch because he doesn't make idiot comments like Andy and doesn't test positive like Contador. Heck, it was still Contador vs. the Schlek's on Alp D'Huez this year, and even at the beginning of Contador's TT! The media might not pay attention to Cadel, but any racer who doesn't pay attention to him is getting themselves in trouble.

      • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

        There's obviously a huge style difference between the two riders. As the French might say, vive le difference. Matt

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1684263326 Heidi Marie Moser

    Remember that Sastre had BOTH Schlecks working for him when he won his Tour. Cadel Evans is nothing like that–he won this Tour with a good team behind him, but in the high mountains and the time trial when it really counted, he showed how damn strong a cyclist he is. I think the Schlecks took him seriously enough. For Andy, Alberto will always be his biggest rival, but I think Schleck knew going into the Alps that he had to try and get time on Evans. And Andy knew, going into the Grenoble TT, that he had a large task ahead of him. Evans may not be as "flashy" as some others, but he won't be ignored and forgotten next year! BMC will give him free reign to do his own training program again, and he'll once again have full support at le Tour. Only bad luck/illness/crashes will hold him back, I think.

  • Franck

    Ok, Sastre is no Cadel Evans, by far. Sastre won that year because Cadel had a very unusual bad TT.
    Same reason why Lance came back in 2009, he thought WTF if Sastre can win I am coming back and can win #8… Didn't think about AC, the ego took over in that case.
    That said, I too agree that the future fight will (should) be between the Schleck duo and AC. If Alberto is not ban at next year's Tour. Cadel in his victory this year became the oldest Tour the France winner in the modern era ( post WW2) so his chance of repeating are slim to none, although I am happy for his victory this time around.
    For the TT in Grenoble Cadel had practiced on the course 3 times in rain and no rain, and rode the course had the Dauphine as well. Andy said he had seen the course… On TV! Really on TV? You would think that such an important stage would deserve a little more attention wouldn't you?
    In an interview about his life dream Andy said that his life dream was to be in his 50's happyly married with kids and a dog. The Tour de France was quote not a life dream for him. Again really, at 26 on top of your sport your life dream his not to crush everyone and get the whole enchilada? Give me your talent young man, at 54 my life dream is still to win the Tour de France. Not gonna happen but a boy can dream.

  • Higgins

    I wonder about the assumption that Andy could have done more if he thought he needed to. Last year we were treated to the spectacle of Contador sitting on his back wheel all the way to the finishing line, and there was nothing Andy could do to shake him off. This year even with the Galibier attack, he couldnt get enough time into Evans to make it count. I dont think the Schlecks made any major mistakes, they just dont quite have enough in the tank to win against the very best. Evans is in the very top tier of riders and could easily have won 3 tours if his luck and confidence were better a few years ago. Some riders will peak at second place in an elite event and its honestly the best they can attain. Im not writing off Andy as a perpetual runner-up, but I think its mistaken to assume that he can only have lost due to some oversight on his or his teams part. Sometimes you just come up against someone better than yourself and there's nothing you can do about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1684263326 Heidi Marie Moser

    Just checking back and wondering why anyone would want to write off a 34 year old cyclist as too old to win another grand tour? Geez, it's not like Evans is headed for the geriatric home! While I do acknowledge that the body changes with age, I think some people get too caught up in the age factor. I think old man Horner looked pretty freakin' good in California, and take a look at Jens Voigt's strength this month. He was storming along in a breakaway at one stage this Tour (forget which one now!) while his YOUNGER teammate Linus was falling off the back! And Jens was the oldest guy in the Tour, correct? 39 years old, and he doesn't look like he's slowing down one bit!

    • Higgins

      I think it was more about the number and scale of the climbs, not Evans age, that led some to think he might not win this year. Against an in-form Contador, he wouldnt have. My previous point relates to this, I think Contador lost because he was too knackered, I think Andy lost because he isnt good enough, even on a made -for-climbers route.

      • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

        Yes, I have to believe a fresh Contador would have won this Tour. The Giro killed his chances. Matt

  • Il_Falcone

    Evans for sure is no Sastre. Cudos to Carlos for avoiding one of the Schleck sisters winning the 2008 Tour but his win was not really convincing and he never came even close to confirming that win.
    On the other hand, Cadel rode the whole race like someone who knew what he was doing. Seeing him riding this Tour reminded me of the way Big Mig used to ride the race. Very thoughtfully, always in control, keeping his rivals in check in the mountains and crushing them in the ITTs. IMO Cadel had the plan to take over yellow only after that ITT in Grenoble from the beginning of the race. He knew exactly what he was capable of doing on that course and made sure he would come there as fresh and unscathed as possible.
    There are more spectacular ways to race (and win) the TdF but definitely no more efficient and secure ways. Now that he has obviously learned to avoid bad luck and gained the self-confidence and the trust of a whole team he will be a serious contender for another win in coming years that only an in-form Berto can securely beat. But then again Berto will beat anyone if he's up to his best. I can't see the Schlecks beat Evans – except for Cadel encountering any major misfortune – if they did not manage to do beat him on a couse that was ideally suited to their somewhat unidirectional skills profile.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      It was a Big Mig-ish way to win, controlling the race, keeping it close until the time trial and then sealing the win. ALberto is still king but I think Andy will still improve and I expect him to finish higher in the tour than Cadel next year. Matt

  • Franck

    Age could be a factor, nobody over 34 has won a Tour in the "modern era" yes Cadel is still young enough but if AC is allowed to race next year I can't imagine Cadel being superior. Jens is a fantastic rider and can probably ride for a couple more years if he wants to. But the chances of a rider in his mid to late 30's winning the Tour are not that great. However we do have a Jeannie Longo who at 54 still wins events and beats woman half her age.
    So who knows Cadel could still surprise the whole cycling world, 2012 will tell.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Franck, Cadel just has a massiven engine and plenty of tenacity. But an in-form Contador is a superior riders and an in-form, taking things seriously, Andy Schleck is also a better rider to win the Tour. All stars alighned for Cadel and I'm happy for him but I don't expect that will happen again. Matt

  • IdeaStormer Jorge

    Well as far as Marketability goes, Evans does equal Sastre. I just hope some of you will realize this sooner than later, don't expect a repeat, one lucky year is just one lucky year.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      I don't expect Evans to win a tour again but he will win some big one day race or week long stage race next year. Sastre had chronic fatigue after his TDF win and never recovered. Evans doesn't have that problem. Matt

    • lfx

      One lucky year does not mean one good year.
      He's had lots of unlucky ones at the same level.
      2005 – Lost the giro as a neo pro on the penultimate stage
      2007 – 23 seconds – and he was dudded because rasmussen and contador fed off each other on the climbs before rasmussen was kicked off = at least a minute of time.
      2008 – 3 GC riders from the same team attacking + a fall and still 58 seconds.
      2009 – UCI world champion + lost the vuelta because of a dodgy neutral mechanic.
      + Fleche Wallone, etc.
      As far as your marketing argument goes – Schleck and contador (and hopefully Rolland, and whoever else is next) vs the Evans and Voeklers of the peloton is what makes it interesting. otherwise you get the snoozefest that was 2010 – except for the last 2 k of climbs an 3 stages nothing happens for GC. Bring back the pave, and this year's parcours. And i think Evans will surprise following the win. it will mellow him.
      Lastly, all this speculation about Andy (what the actual thread's about before you derailed it)- if there had been 2 time trial, or a prologue he would have been further back.

      • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

        Thread derailed? COnfused about that. I never derail threads because I like to see where they go. Watch out: Bruyneel is going to kick Andy's ass and bring in Lance as a special consultant. Matt