Tour de France 2020

Defending Tour de France champ Cadel Evans has one edge on Bradley Wiggins — he’s won the race before

Challenger Bradley Wiggins has the results this season, but Cadel Evans has the title — and he'll fight to defend it

LIÈGE, Belgium (VN) — For Cadel Evans, it’s the near misses that keep him on the rivet. The could-have-beens, the second places, the missed moves. All of it.

The defending Tour de France champion and his muscular BMC Racing organization addressed reporters in Liège on Friday, presenting a confident front in their battle with Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins — not to mention the nine grand-tour winners who will sign in on Saturday.

Failures, it seems, are driving him now just as much as success.

“I’ve got a few boxes left to tick,” Evans said. “Winning one Tour was great. Winning two Tours would be better, right?

“My motivation isn’t waning, but I think it’s coming from the near misses and the close calls in the last few years. … Two times second. If I could cancel them out with two times first, that’d be a good average.”

BMC is squaring off to defend Evans’ Tour title, with eight tough riders — among them George Hincapie, Tejay van Garderen and Philippe Gilbert — to help him reach Paris in yellow.

The champ is coming off a less-than-ideal spring. He was sick in January and stalled at Tirreno-Adriatico. He wanted to ride the Ardennes classics to help his teammates, but battled a severe sinus infection and had to pull out. His form was good in the Critérium International, which he won, but other than that, it’s been a quiet spring and early summer for Evans.

His chief rival in this year’s Tour, Wiggins, has been sterling, winning the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Tour de Romandie and Paris-Nice in crushing fashion. His Team Sky has flexed its muscle repeatedly.

“There’s no arguing with his results,” Evans said of Wiggins. “We’ll see how they perform here … I’ve never gone head to head with Wiggins in a three-week tour. I’m guessing we’ll be in for a good battle.”

Evans, it’s assumed, must crack Wiggins in the high mountains rather than hope to take advantage in the time trials, where Wiggins will have a slight edge.

There are fewer climbs and mountaintop finishes this year, and thus they will be much more important, but there will be no hiding from the 100km of time trials, Evans said.

“I’ve been a little bit more concentrated on time trialing this year. It may completely win or lose the race. We’ll see when we get there,” Evans said.

And the Aussie lines up with one huge advantage over the Brit: He’s won the Tour de France before.

“It makes it a little bit easier. You don’t have this question of doubt: ‘Well, maybe I can win it, maybe I can’t.’ We know we can. We know we can do it,” Evans said. “In terms of winning the race, it’s pretty simple. You’ve got to get to Paris quicker than anyone else.”