Evans ‘on track’ for Tour defense

Tirreno debut set for BMC star

Cadel Evans says he is “on track” to mounting a strong Tour de France defense come July, despite some setbacks during the winter.

The 2011 Tour champ is taking the first opening steps of his new season and will make his 2012 debut at Tirreno-Adriatico in mid-March.

“I’ve still got six months of work ahead of me before I get there,” he said from a Team BMC training camp in Spain. “We’re on track despite having a couple of health issues in the last few weeks, but they were not serious.”

Evans hasn’t raced since the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado last summer.

Evans won Tirreno last year en route to his best and most consistent season ever, including eighth at the Volta a Catalunya, second at the Criterium du Dauphiné and subsequent victories at the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de France.

“I’m going into the race motivated, but without any really big objectives,” he said of Tirreno. “Whether I get a result for the team or someone else in the team gets a result, I’m certainly keen for us as a team to get a result there.”

Evans said he will follow a similar road toward this year’s Tour as last year, with the addition of the Ardennes classics. Last year, Evans skipped the hilly one-day battles in favor of being fresh for Romandie.

Evans has been a consistent performer in the Ardennes classics, winning Fleche Wallonne in 2009 and finishing fourth in Liege-Bastogne-Liege that same year.

“I will follow a similar program, and I hope not to be injured like I was last April because I’d like to be at the Ardennes Week,” he continued.

Evans also said another major goal was the London Olympic Games a week after the Tour concludes.