Cadel Evans is hoping to stay under the radar as a contender to win this year’s Tour de France.
The 2011 winner, 36, is seen as an outside bet compared to clear favourite Chris Froome of Team Sky and two-time winner Alberto Contador.
By finishing third in this year’s Giro d’Italia, Evans showed he can still be a major contender but he is happy to see the spotlight placed on others.
“It seems in the two years since I won everyone has forgotten about me as a Tour rider, so nobody’s looking at me, which is great,” he said yesterday. “We come here, prepare carefully, but all the tension is focused on other riders. It’s fine by me, it leaves me free to do my job.”
Should Evans find a way to win the 100th running of the Tour, he would become the oldest winner in the race’s history by a matter of a few weeks, eclipsing Belgian Firmin Lambot, who won the 1922 race also aged 36.
But he is already facing a challenge from a younger team-mate at BMC Racing, with many tipping the 24-year-old Tejay van Garderen as a potential winner after he claimed the white jersey for the best young rider last year.
He began the race in a supporting role to Evans but proved the stronger rider and finished fifth to Evans’ seventh. However, both Van Garderen and BMC Racing’s general manager Jim Ochowicz were adamant there was only one team leader – Evans.
“We’re not very complicated in our strategy,” Ochowicz said. “We have one single objective and that is to place Cadel Evans on the podium. We will be working for that goal every day starting today for the next three weeks.”
Van Garderen said: “The first goal is to get Cadel on the podium. Part of that strategy with me being on the team is that we maybe have an extra card to play with me being able to attack Sky, or Contador, or some of the other favourites.
“If we have a guy capable of winning this race it’s going to be him and not me.”