Martin Wins Tour de France ITT; Evans Seizes Yellow Jersey
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) has taken the yellow jersey in the 2011 Tour de France and is poised to win the race when it ends tomorrow.
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) has taken the yellow jersey in the 2011 Tour de France and is poised to win the race when it ends tomorrow. The Australian finished second to Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) in Stage 20, a rolling, technical, 42.5-km individual time trial in Grenoble. Martin won in 55:33, with Evans finishing second at 0:07 and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) taking third at 1:06.
Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) set the early standard with a 57:15. Richie Porte (Saxo Bank-Sungard) eclipsed the world time trial champion's time with a 57:03, and Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) pipped Porte by one second. De Gendt's time lasted as the standard until Martin rode the course.
Martin blasted over the course, establishing new bests at each time check en route to the lead. Contador, who was trying to salvage something from a Tour in which he crashed four times and injured his knee while trying to defend his championship, posted a 56:39. This set up the most important contest of the day, the battle between Evans and Frank and Andy Schleck (both from Leopard-Trek) for the yellow jersey.
Evans began the day 0:53 behind Andy Schleck and 0:57 behind Frank Schleck. Everyone expected the Australian to ride better against the clock than the Luxembourgers. But would he ride well enough to make up nearly one minute?
Evans did. At the first time check (15 km), the BMC man had just about wiped out the Leopard-Trek pair's advantage. At the last time check (35.5 km), Evans led Andy by 2:12 and Frank by 2:13. Evans was the virtual yellow jersey.
When the Schleck brothers realized that Andy had lost the yellow jersey, they embraced. Evans, who is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, showed different emotions. He fought back tears on the victory podium.
After the stage, Evans said that he had dreamed of winning the Tour since he was 14 years old. He added, "I really can't believe it right now. I have been concentrating on this one event for so long."
Despite the importance of winning the Tour de France, Evans noted that consistency was the key to victory. "Today, we went through the process, like we had the plan every day--and the plan every day was A, B, C, D. I just rode the best time trial I could, and we just had our plan every day. We did everything we could, everyone from the guys who drove the truck at 6.30 this morning to John Lelangue yelling in my ear every step of the way. It's a real team effort."
In the overall, Evans leads Andy Schleck by 1:34 and Frank Schleck by 2:30. Stage 21, the final stage of this year's Tour de France, will start as a procession for Evans, the winner. The flat, 95-km run from Creteil to Paris will end with eight circuits of the Champs Elysees. Only one jersey, the green jersey, is still up for grabs. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) leads the competition, but Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) is 15 points behind in second. Will the Spaniard