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Cadel Evans dismisses reports of rift with BMC Racing Team over Thor Hushovd’s signing

Cadel Evans dismisses reports of a rift in the BMC Racing team over world road champion Thor Hushovd's signing and says the Norwegian's ability to perform in the spring races would take some pressure off of him early in the year.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (VN) – Cadel Evans on Sunday characterized reports of a rift in the BMC Racing Team over world road champion Thor Hushovd’s signing as remarks taken out of context.

Speaking at the pre-race press conference for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Evans, the overall winner of the 2011 Tour de France, said he looks forward to mounting his title defense with Hushovd in 2012.

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Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper was among the media outlets to report last week that Evans had given BMC Racing president Jim Ochowicz an “ultimatum” that he would not ride the Tour alongside a sprinter in 2012. Evans won this year with a squad built solely to protect him — he won his first road stage, on stage 4, and the team delivered him to Paris after he earned the maillot jaune on the race’s penultimate stage.

Asked by VeloNews about the reports, Evans said he welcomed the hiring of Hushovd, a double stage winner at this year’s Tour.

“I think what was interpreted in the Australian press was a little bit, or maybe I communicated incorrectly, I was talking about sprinters. I’ve done my time with a sprinter, i.e. Robbie McEwen, where a sprinter needs a team to ride for them on all the sprint stages, who needs a leadoff train to ride for them, etc., etc.,” said Evans.

“Thor isn’t a sprinter like that. I think his results in the Tour de France … show that this year. He can sprint, yes. He won the world championship in a group sprint, but I don’t classify him as a pure sprinter like that, so that was taken very well out of context, those comments there.”

Hushovd, a former winner of the Tour’s green points jersey, won twice this year from breakaways after wearing the race’s leader’s jersey for a week. In July, he said that he covets a win at the spring classic Paris-Roubaix over all else in the sport at this point in his career. Evans told the Sydney Morning Herald last last week that the Norwegian’s ability to perform in the spring races would take some pressure off of him early in the year.

“We research, or Jim searches — it’s Jim Ochowicz’s job more than mine — to strengthen our team. Not only for the Tour de France but also for the races earlier in the year. And for me, Thor Hushovd’s a fantastic addition to the team in that regard,” said Evans.

“Yeah, we’ll ride the Tour together. We’ll go to the Tour with a clear objective, which I think is pretty obvious to everyone, and we’ll try to repeat our result of this year, of 2011, and everything is geared around that.”