Starting on December 7, Euro Peloton will begin awarding "EuroPrimes" (pronounced: preems) for the best and worst in various cycling catagories. Below is a list of designations, 10 in all. Each award will be delivered on a daily basis, starting on December 14. Between now and then, readers are encouraged to submit their nominations for consideration in each category.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Log Jam: With New Powerhouse Cycling Teams On Tap for 2010, Saxo Bank and Others Struggle to Stay On Top
2010 will see a big influx of new cycling teams, as Sky, Radioshack and BMC all plan on honing in on the highest level of the sport. Behind strong management, each of the above mentioned teams will be looking to perform among the top teams in the world, which will leave some of those more familiar Pro Tour powerhouses scrapping to maintian their dominance on the cycling scene.
More than any established team, Bjarn Riis' Saxo Bank squad will have their hands full in trying to stay at the top of the sport in 2010. Riis, always a tactician, will certainly put his athletes in position to win, but whetehr Saxo will be able to maintain against the new giants of cycling remains to be seen.
Riis has some very strong riders that he will count on for big results in 2010. The brothers Schleck will once gain fly the flag for the Saxo team at the Tour de France and hilly classics, while Fabian Cancellara, the undisputed king of the time trial, will hope for strong individual results in the cobbled-classics dring the spring. This three-headed monster should wreak havoc on the peloton in 2010 as they did in 2009, but after that things get very murky for the Saxo team.
Jens Voigt, one of the oldest riders in pro cycling, will hope for another good year after returing from a horrible crash at last year's Tour de France. Voigt will be looking to once again win the Criterium International, which would be a highlight to his season. Jakob Fuglsang, young and hungry, will hope to continue to grow with strong results at smaller stage races, while team sprinter Juan Jose Haedo will hope to regain the winning form that has deserted him over the past few seasons.
Bjarne Riis is not a man easily discouraged, and the Dane will work tirelessly to make sure his team is as best prepared as possible for 2010. But the stark reality is that there are new big fish in the pond, and the Saxo team is not as intimidating as it used to be. More than ever, each win by Saxo in 2010 will be earned, not given, as the new cycling landscape takes shape.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Mark Cavendish enjoyed a banner 2009 season behind one of the best teams in the sport of cycling, Columbia-HTC. The Englishman was able to dominate in almost every sprint he contested in 2009, thanks to names like Hincapie, Barry, Boasson Hagen, Lovkvist, Kirchin, and others. But all those names and others are gone from Columbia-HTC for 2010, leaving Cavendish to shoulder the load once again for Columbia, but with a less powerful team.
If anyone can go it alone, it's Cavendish. But against other strong sprinters like Petacchi, McEwen, Farrar and Hushovd, all of whom will have strong supporting casts in 2010, Cavendish may find himself having to battle harder than ever for individual results next year.
One saving grace for Cavendish is that fellow sprinter Andre Greiple will return to the Columbia team for the 2010 season. Unlike last year when he was able to race different races than Cavendish, Greiple may find himself leading the Manxman out more times than not in 2010. Columbia will need to help Cavendish as much as they can with who they have left, and Greiple, as a super domestique, would be a great final lead out man for Cavendish in the biggest races.
Mark Cavendish is still the fastest man on two wheels, and losing several teammates won't change that. But often times, to win a race one must rely on a strong team to beat back the other top contenders. Columbia is still a formidable entity, but they are a shadow of what they were in 2009. Therefore, 2010 will likely be remembered as the year that Cavendish proved he is without a doubt the best sprinter on the planet . . . or that even super athletes need a strong team around them.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Initial reports from Alberto Contador's camp have the Spaniard staying with Astana for 2010. For one reason or another Contador has not bee able to get out of his Astana contract, and so he will ride another year for the Kazakh squad.
Contador believes that he will have a strong team to support him at the Tour de France and he has also stated that he has a good working relationship with the Kazakh Turkey, Alexander Vinokorouv. Contador has insisted that the team establish a strong anti-doping stance, and has asked for a clause that would allow him to leave Astana in the case of any rider on the team testing positive for doping.
Alberto Contador had a tough 2009 as a teammate to Lance Armstrong, and the Spaniard had expressed a strong desire to have a more tranquillo 2010. However, as a part of the Astana team, Contador is sure to see another year full of stress and distractions.
Hopefully Contador will have a solid team to support his bid at another Tour de France title in 2010. Hopefully Alexander Vinokorouv will fall in line and ride in support of Contador. And hopefully all of the new Astana signings will work toward delivering Contador his third Tour de France crown. But for now, all that Contador can have is hope, as there are no guarantees for the 2010 Astana team.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Kim Kirchen left the best team of 2009, Columbia, to join the Russian Katuysha outfit for 2010. The climbing-oriented Kirchen will be one of Katuysha's strongest riders in 2010, but whether he'll focus on the grand ours or the classics has yet to be decided.
Kirchen is a huge cycling talent, capable of dropping the world's best riders in the hilly classics and staying in contention against the best stage racers in the world at the grand tours. A polite, humble personality, Kirchen is often forgotten as a favorite due to his calm demeanor. Riding for Columbia in 2009, Kirchen experienced early season crashes and bad luck throughout the year, and was overshadowed by other riders on the Columbia team.
At Katuysha, all that will change for the Luxembourgian. He'll join an established Pro Tour squad that has several talented riders. Serguei Ivanov will again focus on one day racing next season, while Robbie McEwen will hope to come back from a terrible injury in 2009. Vlad Karpets will be the team's stage racing rider. Kirchen meanwhile, capable of both one day and stage race victories, will likely have to find his place within the team structure as the early season unfolds.
Unlike at Columbia where Mark Cavendish was the undisputed leader at many of the races, Katuysha will likely provide Kirchen with more options for victory throughout the season. Shorter stage races like Paris-Nice, the Tour de Swiss and perhaps even the Tour of California could end up being races where Kirchen is asked to lead the Russian team.
In the one day hilly classics, Kirchen will probably be designated as a co-leader alongside Ivanov for many of the biggest one day races. Ivanov, as a Russian, will probably be given every chance to defend his Amstel Gold title from 2009, while Kirchen will probably be looked to at the Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege classics. By the time April is over, Kirchen could have both a shorter stage race and a classic under his belt heading into the grand tour season.
Kirchen is unproven at the grand tour level as a GC contender. He has ridden well at the Tour de France, but has been unable to put it all together in any given year. He seems to struggle at least one day in the high mountains, which tends to kill his GC hopes. But with a strong team built around him, perhaps that could change for 2010.
Kim Kirchen is a rider's rider. That is, he lets his legs do the talking and never has a bad word to say about other riders. He is a hard working team player willing to play a domestique role when the situation requires it, and doesn't shy away from shouldering team leadership for races suited to his skills. He interacts positively with fans and always seems t0 have time for an interview or photo shoot with the media. Hopefully 2010 will see Kirchen return to form throughout the year for his new Katuysha team.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Floyd Landis and his OUCH team have agreed to mutually part ways as the former stage race front runner plans to take on, according to an official press release, "the longer, tougher stage races offered in Europe and Internationally that better suit his strengths." Rumor has it over the past few months that Landis is headed to Rock Racing.
Floyd Landis is a solid domestic pro on the back stretch of his career. That he is planning on taking on longer, International stage races next year is surprising to say the least. Landis was an also-ran in many of the races he competed in this year, and he was unable to notch even one win all year racing only on the domestic US circuit. It is unlikely that he'll succeed on the International level no matter who he rides for in 2010.
Moving to Rock Racing however seems to make perfect sense for Landis. He has yet to admit that he doped in 2007, and he'll fit right in with the stable of unapologetic outlaws that Rock Racing has assembled over the past few years. Whether he'll be able to replicate the results of such riders as Paco Mancebo and Oscar Sevilla however is another matter entirely.
Floyd Landis has done well just to return from his hip replacement procedure. He is a solid all-around support rider capable of helping elite stage racers in domestic races, but clearly he'll have a tough time merely keeping up in International races. Perhaps another off season of training will see Landis ready to take on the world in 2010, but it's not likely. Instead he'll be Internationally what he was domestically in 2009: a controversial rider who used to be one of the best riders in the world.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The Tour of Missouri has attracted a better field each time it has run. Behind top-flight management from Medalist Sports and challenging parcours despite a less than dynamic state layout, Missouri has seen some of the best cyclists in the world contest the American stage race.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Coming Back to Prominence: Apologetic Dopers Find Forgiveness While Defiant Cheats Suffer Fan's Wrath
One of the most interesting facts to come out of EP's recent poll (results below and still time to vote!) regarding past dopers is that those riders who were contrite and apologetic seem to fare far better in the eyes of cycling fans than those that continue to lie and stonewall authorities.
The question asked of EP's readers was: "If you could eliminate one rider from professional cycling, who would it be?"
Danilo Di Luca
As evidenced by the results above, those riders who have yet to admit their wrong doing (Rasmussen, Vino, Ricco, Di Luca, Schumacher) are viewed far more negatively than those that have admitted their transgressions (Basso, Dekker, Boonen). Cycling fans seem willing to forgive providing a rider is honest whereas a dishonest rider is viewed with huge negativity.
Alexander Vinokourov, appropriately, leads the poll with 42% of the votes. Vinokourov is the poster boy for dishonesty and a total lack of integrity. The Kazakh Turkey has yet to shoulder any responsibility for his actions during the 2007 Tour de France, and as a result he is viewed cynically by the greater cycling public. He will likely never come clean regarding his past doping, and so Vinokourov should remain one of the most hated cyclists now and in the future.
The cycling world, much like the rest of society, has strong beliefs about taking responsibility for one's actions. It is nice to see that those riders who have yet to admit that they doped are shunned and castigated. Even when they return to racing, these dishonest athletes can expect boos throughout the season from true cycling fans. Which is how it should be.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Stijn Devolder has more than earned his salary over the past two seasons for his Quick Step team by winning the Tour of Flanders. The Belgian took top honors two years in a row at the Flemish monument, and for doing so he has become a legend not only in his home country, but worldwide. However, Devolder has been an also-ran throughout much of the rest of the cycling season. Despite having two monuments to his name, Devolder still is not considered a heavy favorite for races other than Flanders.
Certain riders seem to do well year in and year out at certain races. For Erik Zabel, it was Milan-San Remo. For Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France. For Damiano Cunego, it is the Giro di Lombardia. For Tom Boonen, Paris-Roubaix. But these types of riders can usually be counted on to show well at other big races as well. Zabel, for all his success in MSR, also had a slew of big wins at other races. Ditto for Armstrong, Cunego and Boonen. But for Devolder, this has not been the case. But why?
Stijn Devolder has been with the Quick Step cycling team for two full seasons after having come to them from the Discovery Channel cycling team. He had a few notable wins to his credit prior to Quick Step, including a 3rd place overall in the 2007 Tour de Swiss and an 11th overall in the 2006 Vuelta a Espana. But his time at Quick Step has seen far less production out of the Belgian pro. Instead, Devolder has been dominant at the Ronde, but has fizzled throughout the rest of the year. So much o in fact, that he was not included in the 2009 Belgian road world championship team. Devolder viewed his non-selection as a snub, but the results spoke for themselves. Zero wins after Flanders and more than 2 hours down in the GC for the Vuelta a Espana.
Whether Devolder will ever have the form beyond the Tour of Flanders is unknown, but regardless of his results the rest of the year, as a two time winner of Flanders his legacy as a tough one day rider is safe, at least in Belgium. Winning one monument forever endears you to your fans if you are a Belgian rider, and two wins, especially in Flanders, take you into legendary status. Devolder may never have as many wins as Tom Boonen, but he'll probably get asked for as many autographs from Belgian fans as Boonen does.
Stijn Devolder is 30 years old, and he still has several seasons left to try to win other races. Once tipped as a possible stage race contender, all that talk has died down over the past few years as Devolder has been dropped badly in the high mountains during every grand tour he contested. Now a one day rider, Devolder will have to hang his hat on the northern classics, and Flander in particular. If he can mange just one win at Pari-Roubaix he'll sit alongside Boonen, Merckx, de Vlaeminck and Musseuw as one of the greatest Belgian cyclists ever. If not though, he'll be categorized as a one trick pony incapable of winning anywhere but Flanders.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The strange and irritating saga of Alexander Vinokourov continues. In typical "Vino" fashion, the ex-doper and liar Vinokourov claimed that former teammate Andrey Kasheckin was a risk for the Astana team to sign due to his checkered doping past. As usual, Vinokourov neglected to address his own lies and deceits, instead attempting to make his younger countryman appear in a negative light.
Alexander Vinokourov continues to amaze with his seemingly limitless ability to railroad anyone, anywhere, for his own personal gain. Kasheckin likely was encouraged to dope by Vinokourov, yet the youngster is hung out to dry by his former teammate. Instead of standing in front of the world media and labeling himself as a risk, Vinokorouv once again figures he can play the world as fools, hoping that they won't see thorough his deception.
Alexander Vinokourov, as evidenced by EP's most recent poll, is a blight on the cycling community, and should be eradicated as soon as possible. He has not once been willing to admit his lies, and now he has gone as far as to try to further compromise the career of a former teammate. Hopefully the UCI will find a way to have him banned, or at least Astana will be denied a Pro Tour licence, which would effectively eliminate Vinokourov from the year's biggest races. Failing that though, we'll all have to hope that "Vino" is stupid enough to try to dope again. After all, that is the only way he'll ever get to the top step of the podium in any big time race.
Monday, November 9, 2009
The 2009 Amgen Tour of California proved to be a good barometer for who would shine in 2009. Held in February at the beginning of the season, the nine day race was long enough and tough enough to show who would have the chops later in the season. Now scheduled for May, next year's race will be a great indicator for who will be the top favorites at the Tour de France, but the day's of using the AToC as a barometer for the entire season are gone. Still, a look back at this past year's Tour of California and the stars who would shine the whole year through.
Fabian Cancellara got things started in California at the prologue doing what he does best: time trialing. The Swiss machine rode a scintillating time trial despite a high fever, taking the leader's jersey for the first stage. He would have a tough mid season dealing with crashes and injury, but he set everything correct toward the end of the year in Mendrisio, taking his fourth world time trial title. Heading into 2010, Cancellara is the undisputed king in the race against the clock.
Stage one went to a resurgent Francesco Mancebo, who launched a sloo bid in deplorable conditions to net a hard-earned win. Behind him, young Vincenzo Nibali took third place. Nibali had a slew of podium appearances throughout the rest of the season, but the 24 year old Italian seemed to lack that extra kick to finish races. He'll look for bigger gains in 2010.
Stage two took place once again in terrible rainy conditions, and this time it was the American Thomas Peterson of the Garmin team who was able to follow a blistering attack by Levi Leipheimer to take his biggest win of his career. Leipheimer, showing amazing form, flashed the early season fitness that would mark the remainder of the early 2009 cycling season. Leipheimer had a solid mid season as well, before shutting things down in the fall. He'll look for a fourth AToC title in May before heading to France in support of his teammate Lance Armstrong.
Stage three saw the skies clear a bit and a chance for the sprinters. It was big Thor Hushovd who was the beneficiary of a solid team lead out for the sprint, as the Norwegian took top honors on the day. Thor continued after the AToC with an amazing early season, and then re-loaded for the Tour de France where he took the green points jersey. 2009 was by far his best to date, and he'll once again be a team leader for the Cervelo TestTeam in 2010 as he searches for his first monument win, be it at San Remo or Roubaix.
Stage four and stage five were both relatively flat stages made for bunch sprints, and the fastest man in the world came to the front to claim his spot as the rightful owner of the points jersey at California. Mark Cavendish annihilated the field on both days, winning easily, with a smile on his face. The Manxman would of course go on to dominate the 2009 sprint season behind the best lead out train in the business, and he even added a win in Milan-San Remo, a race that many didn't believe he could win. Cavendish will dominate the sport in the coming years, and 2010 should see him net 20+ wins once again.
Stage six once again was the famed Solvang time trial, and once again it was Levi Leipheimer who dominated the field. The impish Astana leader blazed the course, and bested some big names, including a returning Lance Armstrong. Armstrong finished 12th in the time trial that day, which foreshadowed his overall finish later that year in Italy when he placed 12th overall to the Giro d'Italia. Armstrong moved up to third overall at the Tour de France, but clearly he wasn't the same dominant pro he was nearly four seasons ago.
Stage seven of the 2009 Tour of California saw an unlikely victor, as Ronaldo Nocentini took top honors on a day with some tough climbs. Nocentini soloed home for his Ag2R team, and the Italian would end up wearing the fabled yellow jersey of the Tour de France that July, finally earning the respect he deserves as a solid one day rider.
The final stage of the Tour of California went to a jubilant Frank Schleck and Saxo Bank, who closed out the 2009 AToC in style with a brash escape in the waning kilometers of the final stage. Schleck bested a hard luck runner-up Nibali once again, and like many of the AToC stars Schleck would go on to shine again at the Tour de France in July, taking a stage win and a top ten overall placing before shutting his season down to address a knee injury. He'll be a protagonist throughout the spring in 2010, and a dark horse in July for the Tour.
Now that the Tour of California has shifted to May, there will no longer be the option to use it as a barometer for who will be the fastest later in the year. However, the positive is that many of the top favorites for the Tour de France will ride California, giving American fans the chance to see some of the biggest names ahead of their biggest objectives. Like any change it will take some getting used to, but in the end the Amgen Tour of California will still provide fans with a nice perspective on who will shine the brightest in July at the Tour de France.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
It's one of the most mythical accomplishments in all of cycling: the Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double. Many have attempted it, but few have been so lucky to accomplish it in the modern era of cycling. The last to succeed, a drug-riddled Marco Pantani, did so behind unbelievable climbing in the high mountains and solid time trialing.
Posted by Briggs at 5:39 PM
Friday, November 6, 2009
Over the course of the 2009 cycling season, names like Menchov, Contador, Gilbert and Cavendish were synonymous with big time performance. These riders, and others came to the fore for their respective teams and delivered as trusted team leaders at some of the biggest bike races in the world. But other high profile riders fell short as team leaders. EP examines three riders who should be sent back to the domestique ranks for 2010.
Filippo Pozzato, Katuysha
"Pippo" Pozzato was a red-hot cycling commodity back in 2006 after he took the win at the season's first one day monument, Milan-San Remo. This huge win saw the brash Italian join the Liquigas squad for two year, where he spent him time trying to add big wins to his palmares. But with exception to a solid victory at the Het Volk semi-classic and a stage at the Tour de France, Pozzato fell short throughout his two years with the lime green and blue team. This prompted another transfer to the Katuysha team, where Pozzato was the team leader for the early classics.
Again Pozzato was able to take top honors in a semi-classic, this time the E3, but he once again fell short in the monuments of the early spring. A victory on home soil in the Italian championships saved his summer, before riding a good race as a domestique in the world championships for Damiano Cunego. Pozzato is still clearly a talent on the world cycling scene, but at 28 years old he is already getting a bit long in the tooth to be a team leader at the bigger races for much longer.
When he rode for Quick Step he was a lesser known rider amongst legends (Bettini, Boonen), but he was able to take his only monument win to date in a surprise move. Is he were designated as a back up at Katuysha, perhaps he could harness that underdog role to surprise the field once again at one of the 2010 monuments. As a team leader, he has not proven that he can provide the breakthrough results required when one has an entire team riding in their support.
Daniele Bennati, Liquigas
Daniele Bennati won the points jersey in the 2008 Giro d'Italia along with a slew of other wins that year, and seemed poised to battle Cavendish and other top sprinters throughout 2009. But a combination of injuries and poor form saw the Italian notch only two wins in 2009, and none of them on the level of a grand tour or classic. Benatti will be a sprinter on a stage racing team in 2010, and will likely not enjoy significant team support in many of the bigger races.
As dominant as Bennati was from 2006 through 2008, it seems dubious that 2009 saw such a precipitous decline in performance for the sprinter. He never failed a doping control, but his sudden lack of acceleration in 2009 makes one wonder if he was operating off only bread and water in previous years. Regardless though, if he has another poor season in 2010, he'll find himself likely leading Jacopo Guarnieri out in 2011.
Juan Antonio Flecha, Team Sky
Juan Antonio Flecha has beat his head against the wall over the past several seasons trying to find a winning combination at one of the early season classics. Always in the mix but rarely on the podium, Flecha's time has passed him by.
Flecha transferred to team Sky for 2010, where he'll be joined by a slew of young talent. The time is now for Flecha to impart his knowledge as an elder statesman of the upstart British team. The Argentinian strongman will likely be a key component of the Sky team in the classics, but his time as a protected rider has come and gone.
The three riders above are great examples of just how competitive the professional cycling landscape really is. Each are amazing riders in their own right, but as the years tick by they find themselves falling behind younger, faster, hungrier riders. Each of the above three could still very well surprise with a huge victory in 2010, but each would be best served to focus on playing the team role next year.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Into the Fire: With Cadel Evans Gone from Silene-Lotto, Jurgen Van den Broeck to Shoulder 2010 Tour de France Leadership
In this past year's Tour de France, Cadel Evans sank far down the overall classification, completely off form and without the legs to follow the other leaders at the Tour de France. Meanwhile, his teammate Jurgen Van den Broeck was having the ride of his life, at the front of the peloton on some of the toughest stages and fighting for the top 20 in the overall GC battle.
By the time the Tour arrived in Paris, Van den Broeck had established himself as the best placed rider for Silence-Lotto, and rumors began to swirl regarding who would lead the Lotto team in the 2010 Tour. Evans meanwhile took his poor performance in France in stride, rebuilding his confidence in time to take a podium spot at the Vuelta a Espana and of course top honors at the road world championships in Mendrisio in late September.
Cadel Evans, sensing that he may be in for another season without support at Silence-Lotto, jumped ship a few weeks ago from Silence-Lotto, signing with the revamped BMC squad. The Australian got sick of riding without help in the toughest stages of the Tour, and in moving to BMC he'll be afforded a chance to start fresh with a new team.
For Van den Broeck meanwhile, the 2010 cycling season will be one full of more pressure than any other season previously for the 26 year old. Now the sole GC hope on the Belgian squad, Van den Broeck will have to shoulder the entire GC load for Lotto next year. Whether he'll be able to deal with the pressure and expectations as the team leader is still uncertain.
Riding as a relatively unknown rider in a grand tour is a very different experience than riding as a top favorite. Van den Broeck was able to enjoy very little media attention throughout the first two weeks of the Tour last year, as the press instead focused on Evans and his terrible performance up to that point. Van den Broeck was able to ride is own race without expectations, and the Belgian rode a strong race, creating intrigue into his chances as a GC threat for future grand tours.
Ready or not, 2010 will see Jurgen Van den Broeck having to shoulder the full load for the Silence-Lotto team at next year's Tour de France. A Belgian on a Belgian team is pressure enough, but adding the pressure of having to ride high on the GC at the Tour de France could prove too much for Van den Broeck. If he does succeed in riding a good race for Lotto next year though, Van den Broeck will establish himself as a new Belgian hero, and the first serious Belgian stage race threat since the great Eddy Merckx.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Cadel Evans, like he did in Mendrisio at the world championships, acted swiftly and decisively over the final few weeks of the 2009 cycling season, and Australia's best stage racer has chosen to sign with the American BMC team for 2010. The newly crowned world champion bought himself out of the final year of his contract with the Silence-Lotto team, and inked a three year deal with BMC, joining such cycling stars as George Hincapie, Alessandro Ballan and Karsten Kroon on the suddenly powerful BMC squad.
Evans left Lotto for what he perceived to be total lack of support in the grand tours, and in particular the Tour de France. And who could blame him. Year in and year out over his five seasons with Lotto, Evans seemed to arrive at the Tour already at a disadvantage, leading weak teams susceptible to being attacked and isolated in the high mountains, to say nothing of the team time trials.
Now at BMC, Evans will have a strong team to support his attempt to finally bag a three week tour. Evans has been close in the past, and the mental advantage of having a strong team behind him could prove to be the deciding factor in pushing him to the top step of a grand tour podium.
BMC management and riders alike have expressed a desire to ride in the 2010 Tour, and with their new line up there should be no issue in inviting them to compete in the French stage race. Evans, as world champion, will add color to the race, and the veteran tactics of Hincapie and Kroon could lead to stage wins for the BMC team. Add former world champion Alessandro Ballan to the mix, and you have four riders capable of battling for at least stage wins at the Tour next year.
Now that he will have a functional team to support his attempt at taking top honors at the Tour, the next question is whether Evans can handle the pressure that goes along with being a true favorite for the Tour. He'll be a marked man by fans and media alike heading into next year's race as a strong individual rider with a strong support team behind him. Whether he'll be able to maintain an even keel under duress though is yet to be seen. Evans is known as a fragile personality who sometimes cracks under the scrutiny of the press, and the spotlight will be harsh on the Aussie in the months leading up to next year's Tour.
Cadel Evans, as the new world champion, realized that making a move to another team was a now or never proposition. His stock has never been higher as a cycling commodity, and in striking a deal with BMC he gives himself his best chance to finally win the Tour de France. He'll have his work cut out for him as he always does, but if he doesn't take a win in France over the next three seasons, Evans won't be able to claim it was because of lack of team support. Now is the time for Cadel Evans, a newly crowned world champion on a newly formed American powerhouse cycling team.