Cadel Evans wins Tour de France. A worthy, quiet champion.

Evans makes a bike adjustment before Alp d'Huez.

There are more popular winners of the Tour de France than Cadel Evans but perhaps few as deserving.

The Australian earned his first Tour victory the hard way, riding at the front for three weeks, through crashes, narrow, wet roads, up the high mountains of the Pyrenees and Alps and around Grenoble against the clock.

The stars aligned and he rode the perfect race.

He did it his way: careful, tenacious, opportunistic, calculating and steadfast. The fans that line the mountain roads wish Andy Schleck had won — somebody with more flash — but the triumph went to the quiet, thoughtful Evans.

The man has never delivered an exciting quote but there is no faulting his resolve, his heart or his force of will. The 2011 Tour de France belongs to a former mountain-biker with the pianist wife. He likes fine wine, enjoys reading good books and listens to opera.

That makes him not only an amazing freak of physiology but an odd duck in the peloton. His Tour win will perhaps inspire other riders to train harder and hang out at the bookstore.

At times he looked overmatched and isolated, outnumbered by the Brothers Schleck and without Basso or Sanchez or Voeckler to take a pull. He simply gritted his teeth and dug deeper when others hung on his wheel, happy just to make the top ten.

After so much bad luck in the tour over the years, so many crashes, so little team support, Evans can look back at the last two years with immense pride. The rainbow jersey of world road race champion and a Tour de France victory.

That’s a career right there. When he won the worlds, he gained the confidence to become a more aggressive, attacking rider. Twisted Spoke hopes that his Tour win will allow Evans to relax and enjoy the ride. Open up, laugh more, let down his guard, talk some shit.

Evans wins Tour, flaunts personality. Hell, why not?

There will be a party tonight at the BMC hotel tonight, a chain Novotel in the town of Voreppe. Knowing Evans, it will be a quiet affair without too much champagne just yet.

Still, it will be a tremendous moment to sit down with his team after three weeks and many years of hard work and sacrifice. His thanks will be genuine and his contentment deep.

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  • Jennifer

    Yea, Cadel!! We couldn't be happier for him. What a tour 2011 has been!

  • beth

    I listen to opera too, but that's not the sort of thing I like to mention in my Twitter profile. Glad to see that I am in such good company. Didn't closely follow Evans career much before Mendrisio, so I haven't been able to understand why so many of the Twitterati are so hard on him. They go way beyond snark. I think he's an admirable champion and was by far the best man in this tour de france. Really sad to see how devastated Andy and Frank both were, but Cadel clearly deserves the yellow jersey and I'm very happy for him.

  • jc luddite

    I am thrilled to see Cadel win! I have been waiting for years to finally see this happen. Well done!

    I used to live in his part of the world for a number of years. There are two great quality's I noticed about the athletes form down under, both NZ & Oz, no matter if it was cycling, cricket , mt climbing or Rugby..they shut up and put up. Very rare to see any self promotion or shit talking outside of the pub. They just worked on getting better. the second was they were usually supportive of everyone. the All Blacks hung out in the local pub, pro cyclist led easy group rides and it was pretty inclusive. one of my coworkers was a pro mtb racer for specialized and he didn't tell me for almost a year.

    • Evans gritted his teeth and did the work that needed to be done.Impressive stuff and a well-derserved win. Matt

  • Apparently the readers of your blog don't visit YouTube that often. Evans is an odd duck, to say the least. After reading this I'll go easy on him but still have a hard time accepting the fact that a man w/ a miniature poodle named 'Molly' won the Tour. Was Fignon like this? I've heard he was rather "un-Championesque" as well.

    My concern is that casual fans of the sport will actually find out Cadel's true colors and run back to UFC, or maybe the latest Poker league on Versus. Cadel's as bad for cycling as Iverson was for the NBA, & he'll dissuade more fans from joining our ranks than any doping scandal could.

    Maybe some day I'll admire his traits as you do. Until then, I'll continue to watch his "unintentional" water fight w/ Cav on YouTube.

    • jc luddite

      Well, he is not everyone's favorite pro cyclist. but who gives a sh$#? outside of the arena most pro athletes are as diverse as everyone else.Would you rather he run a dog fighting ring or pull a Kobe Bryan? Eat tainted beef?

      The world of pro cycling is so foreign to the majority of sports fans here in the US….most can't get beyond the skin tight kits ,despite there resemblance to a NASCAR car. either we are jerks in their way on the road and/or members of the log house republicans.

      time to stop worrying about molly…

      • In the grand scheme of thing, I like that Evans actuallly reads books and listens to classical music. That may not making him the approachable one-of-the-boys types but who cares. Matt

    • One of the things I love about cycling is the emotional aspect. These guys are the best athletes on earth; they test their bodies and minds to the outermost limit. And the tears come because they are at the literal brink. That shows more guts and determination than any other sport in my opinion.

      Cadel has plenty of personality. Yes, he is a bit quiet/understated, but anyone has to agree that he is UNIQUE. You can't mistake him for any other cyclist. He rode a GREAT race; this was the most dynamic TdF in years, I think. Cadel was consistent and fought-hard. He had a good team behind him, and when it came down to the wire, he absolutely KILLED the time trial.

      I am a huge Leopard Trek fan, btw, but I was not disappointed in this TdF.

      • Heidi, Yes, these guys go so deep that they don't have the emotion energy left to control their emotions. I wish Cadel was a little more stylish but I also appreciate that he's not the typical one dimensional athlete: he reads actual books, listens to classical music. So hats off to him. Matt

    • Jon, hey, I'm not a big Pro-Evans guy and on the personality scale he's below average but I don't think he'll be bad for the sport — was he a bad world champion? At least, you know you know you've got a real Tour winner, not someone whose case is still waiting to be decided over a year later. Matt

  • Higgins

    I'm delighted to see him win. He is a worthy and exemplary champion – even more given that he came from a mountain biking background to conquer the Road scene.

    Chapeau to Cadel, it was a pleasure to see your victory.

    • He really worked for it — he earned it. Andy made a mistake by thinking that once Contador was out of the picture, he was in control of the race. Not smart. Matt