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Colorado will be Cadel Evans’ last race in 2011

Evans signed a lot of autographs in Colorado. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com DENVER, Colo. (VN) — Tour de France champion Cadel Evans has called it a season at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Evans (BMC Racing) finished seventh overall, 1:18 behind winner Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack),…

2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage 4
Evans signed a lot of autographs in Colorado. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

DENVER, Colo. (VN) — Tour de France champion Cadel Evans has called it a season at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Evans (BMC Racing) finished seventh overall, 1:18 behind winner Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), and said afterward that he would miss the upcoming Canadian WorldTour events, where he would have entered as a favorite.

Moments after rolling through the finish safely with the bunch Sunday in downtown Denver, Evans said he would likely call it a season.

“Today may have been my last race of 2011,” said Evans, who joined the post-race press conference as a surprise guest before the podium finishers arrived.

Evans was initially expected to take part in the upcoming WorldTour events in Quebéc, but said that “flirtation” was over. With a number of appointments and the need for a personal vacation calling, Evans said he would return to Europe from Denver and would not race again in North America, or most likely anywhere else, this fall.

The move would keep Evans out of not only the Grand Prix de Montreal and Quebéc City, both of which suit the powerful Aussie, but also the Tour of Lombardy, where future teammate Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) will try for his third consecutive win in the Italian monument. The 2009 world road champion will also miss the world championships on a course suited more to sprinters than power climbers, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The early departure for Evans comes after he began racing later than usual this spring, and trimmed his race days slightly in order to remain fresh for what turned out to be a brutal Tour de France. While he raced less than ever, Evans won the overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de France, and finished second at the Critérium du Dauphiné. The Aussie’s worst stage race finish was eighth at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in March.

Whether the early retirement will impact Evans’ training calendar for 2012 remains to be seen.

“It’s a little bit timing, with logistics and things,” said Evans. “Again, the Tour in 2012 will be the top goal… I’m working over the details in my mind.”

Evans led the UCI WorldTour rankings as of August 22, with an advantage of just six points over Gilbert. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) sat third, at 104 points, and stopped his season last week.