Cadel Evans, tough guy. Yeah, that feels strange but we’re getting used to it.
The 2010 Tour Down Under is the first Protour event for Evans wearing the rainbow strip jersey of World Road Race Champion. What his home town fans are seeing up close is a man with a successful personality transplant. Evans the dull is now Evans the bold.
Since his big win in Mendrisio, Switzerland with an uncharacteristically aggressive attack on the final climb, Evans has completely changed his racing style. The conservative tactician always calculating odds is now the impulsive, daring rider who sees blood and bares pointy incisors.
You’re looking at a new tough guy joining the Australian ranks. Bad asses like famous rugby plater Noel Cleal. One story goes that his parents asked him to deal with a plague of wild pigs on the farm. He cornered one of the dangerous pigs, and while it savaged his hand, he felled the beast with a single blow from his other hand. He played the rest of his career missing a few fingers. That’s the kind of Cadel we’re dealing with now.
Underplaying his form coming into his home tour, Evans stated some modest goals for the week. He planned to memorize the names of his new teammates and get in some training. What we didn’t know was that just behind that lie was a fiery cauldron of fury waiting to be unleashed. He must have been listening to Megadeath all week.
When stage three rolled around Evans surprised everyone with an attack. On a searing hot day in Sterling, Evans not only foiled the sprinters but nearly won, taking third behind Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. That was the new Cadel in action. It would have been easy to say, good on you mate, you gave the locals something to cheer, now time to relax.
But we’re talking about Evans the gladiator — yes, like fellow Australian Russell Crowe in the Ridley Scott sword and sandal classic. Old Rome and Old Willunga Hill, it’s all the same thing. On the second climb up Willunga, Evans again launched a brutal assault and only Alejandro (borrowed time) Valverde, his mate Samuel Sanchez and Slovakian Peter Sagan had the legs to keep up.
The in-your-face move nearly won him the Tour Down Under. Eventual winner Andre Greipel almost had a heart-attack and his HTC-Columbia team were forced to ride like turbo slaves to save his ochre jersey.
Evans looked razor sharp, maybe even Wolverine sharp. Yes, again, another Australian tough guy played by Hugh Jackman and ten sharp knives. Where was mild mannered Cadel Evans, the man with the classical pianist wife and sophisticated tastes? Dead, that’s where. This was wild man Evans, the crazy bushman of the peloton. You never know what this man will do.
Tour de France legend claims the yellow jersey gives a man wings. Well, the rainbow jersey gave Evans a 50 gallon drum of legal testosterone. Those stripes came with fire. Or we could also call Cadel the deranged Dingo dog at the evil Australian junkyard. Maybe he has a gun collection, chews tobacco and watches old Chuck Norris movies, too.
Cadel Evans is an animal — snarling, hyper-aggressive and barely house-trained. Watch out, boys and girls, the rainbow bad-ass is headed your way.