Tour de France champion Cadel Evans has said that he wants to ride cycling’s biggest race at least twice more before he retires. The BMC Racing star was talking in Darwin, Northern Territiory, during a whistlestop book tour of his native country during which he hasn’t always endeared himself to some of the locals.
In particular, Brisbane’s drivers have come under fire from a man whose recent success on the road has seen him mellow somewhat from the days of his infamous ‘Don’t stand on my dog or I’ll cut off your head’ comment – the first part of which was the inspiration for a tongue-in-cheek t-shirt formerly sold on his website.
Last week, Evans, in Brisbane to sign copies of his latest book, The Long Road to Paris, branded motorists in Queensland’s capital as “unnecessarily nasty,” which provoked a storm of protest from drivers as well as support from some of the city’s cyclists, according to a report in the Courier Mail.
"We certainly have a lot of riders [in Brisbane] and most of the people ride very early here," said Evans said. "When they get abuse from the cars, I can understand why [cyclists go out early],” he added.
One local, named as Shell from Bayside, hit back at Evans, saying: "A lot of Brisbane drivers are people from interstate who moved here and people who moved here from overseas. So, don't go blaming Brisbane drivers. Get your facts right, that includes you Cadel Evans."
Another, whose name was given as Kevin, supported the yellow jersey winner’s stance, saying: "Drivers in Brisbane are inconsiderate and only think of themselves. I do a bit of walking and some times I wonder if it's the national sport and (drivers) try to get as close as they can to cyclists and pedestrians."
Further comments to the Courier Mail’s article reflect those found at the end of similar reports on newspaper websites in the UK, albeit with much of the terminology reflecting terms used Down Under, such as ‘rego’ substituting for ‘road tax.’
Back on safer ground and talking about the Tour de France, a race in which he was runner-up in both 2007 and 2008 before going one better last July, Evans said that he planned to keep riding in the race for as long he was able to mount a challenge.
With Evans aged 34, as were Gino Bartali at the time of his 1948 victory and Henri Pelissier in 1923, only 1922 winner Firmin Lambot, then aged 36, has been an older winner of the maillot jaune.
"Two more tours, two more good tours at least," said Evans, according to The Australian, adding that his BMC team was keeping tabs on how his body is ageing.
"I keep improving and I am not showing signs of ageing in a physical way," he explained. “As long I can be in the Tour to win it and go for the win, I want to keep going."
Born in Katherine, Northern Territory, at the age of nine Evans moved with his mother briefly to New South Wales, before they settled in Victoria.
He and wife Chiara now split their time between homes in Barwon Heads near Geelong and in Switzerland, close to Mendrisio, the site of Evans’ world championship victory in 2009.
While in Australia, Evans has also received the Victorian Sportsperson of the Year award, although that title reflects his home state, sadly scotching any thoughts that he might have to defend his Tour de France title while perched on a penny-farthing come next July.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.