PONFERRADA, Spain (VN) — Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) confirmed he will retire on February 1, 2015, after competing in the Great Ocean Road Race at home in Melbourne, Australia. The 2011 Tour de France winner and 2009 world champion revealed his decision Thursday in Ponferrada, Spain, ahead of the worlds.
“Cycling built me as a person, it’s been more than half of my life; it’s amazing what this sport gave me,” the 37-year-old Australian said. “It’s given me all I could dream for.”
Evans will race the worlds on Sunday with the Australian team that includes Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans, both team Orica-GreenEdge cyclists. In 2015, he said that he will race the Tour Down Under, January 20-25 and the Great Ocean Road Race named in his honor.
He explained that he will become an ambassador for BMC Racing after he stops racing and help the team’s young and new riders.
“I look forward to that role,” Evans said. “It comes back to what cycling means to me and to [team owner] Andy Rihs’ philosophy, the business of promoting cycling. I want to promote the sport that has giving me so much. It’s part of staying in cycling and staying in the sport.”
“Cadel will be an ambassador to the team and will mentor the new riders in the team; he’ll be a role model for them,” general manager, Jim Ochowicz explained. “That’s going to be a great asset for our team. His time won’t end today, not in January, but as long as we keep going.”
Evans met Ochowicz and discussed BMC Racing five years ago in Mendrisio, Switzerland, one day prior to him winning the world title. He joined the team the next year and continued his success.
“He taught us how to get ready and prepare for grand tours,” Ochowicz added. “The expectations were high from the start, and we started winning at the start with Tirreno-Adriatico, Flèche Wallonne, the yellow jersey at the Tour. … Those things don’t happen to teams in the first year, it was the result of Cadel giving us leadership and it made things incredibly successful for us.”
Evans abandoned the 2010 Tour with a broken elbow, but returned to win the 2011 edition and become the first Australian to do so in the race’s 100-year history. The win highlights his consistent run since he started racing professionally in 2002 with Mapei.
In the 17 Grand Tours that he started, he won the 2011 Tour, placed second twice — behind Alberto Contador in 2007 and Carlos Sastre in 2008 — and third in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. He concluded his run with a 52nd place in the 2014 Vuelta a España, which ended two weeks ago.
The rider known as “Cuddles” saw the 2008 Tour win slip out of his hands in the last time trial and the 2009 Vuelta go wrong because of a bad tire change.
“I had some regrets and bitterness, but I go away happy and know I gave the most I could. I know I inspired people to take up sport. I tried to always be the best professional, whether it was in the results sheet or outside of that,” Evans said.
“I had a lot of seconds and fourths, but sometimes those experiences make you a better rider and you learn from them. If I had not have had bad luck, maybe I would have won a world championship title earlier, but then maybe I wouldn’t have won in 2009. The same for the Tour. That’s what makes sports interesting.”
After Mapei, Evans raced for T-Mobile/Telecom from 2003 to 2004 and Davitamon-Lotto from 2005 to 2009. Instead of fading away, he remained aggressive through his last full year. He placed second the Tour Down Under by one second, won the overall of the Giro del Trentino, wore the leader’s pink jersey for four days and fought for the Giro d’Italia win. He also left the Tour of Utah with two stage victories.
Evans, true to his spirit, promised to keep fighting through the worlds and his last races at home in 2015.
“For me this is not the end,” Evans said, “but the beginning of a new chapter of my life in cycling.”