Saturday, 21 July 2012
Cadel Evans' team director has backed the Australian to be a Tour de France title contender again next year.
John Lelangue also said Evans' difficult Tour did not mean the race had been a failure for BMC.
Evans will most likely finish outside the top five after two tough days in the Pyrenees this week.
He was sixth overall ahead of the stage-19 time trial, nine minutes and 57 seconds behind impending Tour winner Bradley Wiggins.
Evans will be 36 next July, the same age as Belgian Firmin Lambot when he became the oldest Tour winner in 1923.
But he also came to professional road cycling late after a successful mountain bike career.
"He's like good wine - he came pretty late to cycling," Lelangue said.
"We saw also last year, he has a lot of experience.
"I think he will always be there."
When asked if Evans could defy history and win the Tour again, Lelangue replied: "why not? the most important thing is he's always training and is passionate like a junior.
"Look at (team-mate) George Hincapie - 17 Tours, a lot of pro races, and when you speak with him in the winter he's like a junior, going out training and expecting his first race of the season."
But first, BMC must beef up their Tour team if they are to be competitive with Wiggins' Sky squad, who have dominated the race.
BMC's teamwork has been rock-solid again in this Tour, but they lacked climbing firepower compared to Sky.
"This will begin on Monday morning - from Monday morning on I will be concentrating every day on what we can do for the next Tour," Lelangue said.
"Then we will wait until October to see the parcours (route) for 2013.
"It will be a permanent, permanent fight and working on this."
Lelangue said the team had never given up and with Evans and American Tejay van Garderen, they have two riders in the top 10.
Van Garderen, rated a future Grand Tour contender, is set to win the best young rider category.
Asked if he was impressed with Evans' fighting spirit in this Tour, Lelangue replied: "I'm more than impressed - I'm proud of what they have done, how we have defended the title, how the team has worked.
"I'm proud of all of the guys."
Wiggins' teammate Mark Cavendish won stage 18 on Friday with a withering final sprint as Australian Matt Goss finished second again.
Evans hopes to salvage something from his Tour with a solid performance in the time trial, a day before the Paris finish.
"I will give everything, but everything of 80 per cent or 70 per cent isn't always enough at the Tour," said Evans, who had an upset stomach earlier this week.
"We will do what we can."
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