Saturday, 14 July 2012
Cadel Evans should have been able to regroup on stage 12 of the Tour de France, but it was nothing of the sort.
A day after launching a bold attack and ultimately dropping two places to fourth overall, the Australian defending champion found the longest stage of this year's race was no "day off".
It looked like the sort of stage where a small break goes clear and the overall contenders can call an unofficial truce in the peloton.
Indeed, there was no change to the top of the general classification.
But Evans said it was tough going from the start of the 226km.
"It was a hard day today - long and a really hard start," he said.
"Not only the climbs, (but) the speed at times of the peloton. "Yeah, it's been really tough."
Evans said it had been a strange Tour, with many big climbs coming well before the stage finishes.
In Friday's 12th stage, there were two category-one climbs well before halfway.
"It really does put a lot of people on the limit from the start," he said.
Evans has no regrets about his bold move in Thursday's epic stage through the Alps, where he attacked race leader Brad Wiggins with 60km to go.
The attack only lasted a few kilometres and Evans was then dropped on the final climb to be three minutes and 19 seconds behind Wiggins.
"Bike racing is always a gamble. Sometimes you try something and the more you risk, the more you have to gain and the more you have to lose," he said.
"In retrospect, it wasn't a successful move.
"If you got to Paris and thought 'um, maybe I should have done something more' ... you might have regrets.
"Overall, someone had to do something and no-one else was gonna do it and that left it with me.
"Being fourth in the GC is not a position I'm happy with."
Evans again vowed to fight all the way to Paris, with the Pyrenees stages yet to come.