Two-time runner-up Cadel Evans said that X-rays on his fractured elbow may determine whether he continues in the Tour de France.
The BMC leader’s hopes of winning this year’s race virtually collapsed on Tuesday when he lost around eight minutes to rivals Alberto Contador (Astana) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) when he struggled on the 25.5.km climb of the Madeleine.
His team later disclosed that Evans had been racing the ninth stage with a fractured elbow, suffered during a crash early on Sunday’s eighth stage, when he took the yellow jersey.
After an emotional breakdown on Tuesday when he was left nearly eight minutes adrift of new race leader Schleck, Evans got through Wednesday’s stage unscathed.
But he said that scans to check whether any bones have been displaced in his elbow could decide whether he continues the race.
“I think I have to have some X-rays in a couple of days to see if there’s any displacement. That’s a question for the radiologists,” said Evans, who nevertheless seemed upbeat about his chances of carrying on.
“I’m feeling better today, it’s a good sign. Obviously it’s not as difficult a stage (as Tuesday). I spoke to my manager Tony Rominger last night and he said the Madeleine’s the hardest climb in the world, so it made me feel a little bit better about everything.”
Evans was beaten to the yellow jersey in 2007 when Contador emerged from the final time trial with a 23-second lead on the Australian.
In 2008 he was beaten by another Spaniard, Carlos Sastre, who produced the time trial of his life to beat the Australian into second place.
Evans had always finished among the race’s top 10 until last year when, after a disastrous campaign with his former team Silence-Lotto, he finished 30th overall.
He went on to make amends in style, following up a third-place finish at the Vuelta a España by winning the world road race champion’s rainbow jersey in Switzerland, a first for an Australian.
Earlier this season he placed fifth overall in the Giro d’Italia.