Cadel Evans is set to win the Tour de France after erasing the lead of brothers Andy and Frank Schleck in yesterday’s time trial.
Evans is 1 minute, 34-second ahead of Andy Schleck heading into today’s final stage to Paris, where tradition dictates the leader isn’t challenged. He would be the first Australian to win the 108-year-old cycling race. Frank Schleck is 2 minutes, 30 seconds behind in third.
Evans, a time-trial specialist, started yesterday’s stage 57 seconds behind Andy Schleck and four seconds behind Frank Schleck. He propped himself on the handlebars and churned the pedals over the rolling 26-mile course in Grenoble, sweat pouring from his face, to finish second in the trial behind Tony Martin of Germany.
Evans wiped away tears as he waited to change into the leader’s yellow jersey. He switched from mountain bike racing to road racing in 2001 and two years later broke his collarbone three times. He was the Tour runner-up in 2007 and 2008.
“I’ve had some bad moments in the last 10 years so that just makes the good ones even better,” Evans, 34, told Eurosport television, adding he wants to make sure he gets to the finish in Paris without mishap.
Still in the yellow jersey, Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck slumped onto his handlebars in exhaustion after finishing the time trial in 17th yesterday. Frank Schleck was 20th.
Andy, 26, had taken the lead from Thomas Voeckler two days ago after the final mountain stage that ended atop Alpe d’Huez, while Frank, 31, had risen to second.
The younger Schleck is on course to be runner-up for the third straight year.
Evans started the Tour de France fluently, winning stage four to the Mur-de-Bretagne and defended his position against defending champion Alberto Contador and the Schlecks in the Pyrenees and Alps.
“The way he rode clearly wasn’t spectacular but he has always been there,”, Contador told Eurosport. “He deserves it.”
Voeckler is fourth overall, 3 minutes, 20 seconds behind Evans. Contador is fifth, 37 seconds further back.