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By Agence France Presse
Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans arrived in China for the Olympic Games Wednesday, putting a positive spin on a knee injury which temporarily sidelined his hopes of competing in the time trial.
The 31-year-old slipped and injured his knee at a Post-Tour de France party last month.
Uncertainty over his injury meant Evans, who will lead Australia’s medal hopes in the road race this Saturday, gave up his time trial spot to Michael Rogers – a former three-time world champion.
Australia was later handed an extra wildcard spot for the race against the clock, giving Evans – considered to be one of the world’s best – an extra incentive.
After a tough three weeks of racing the Switzerland-based pro said he will find it strange if anyone other than a Tour de France rider won the Olympic road race crown.
Evans said his injury was responding well to treatment and claims it is unlikely to hamper him during the 245.5km road race, where he will team up with Rogers, Stuart O’Grady, Simon Gerrans and Matthew Lloyd.
“For me personally my training was upset with the knee (injury) but I will be surprised if someone who didn’t ride the Tour is up there winning the medals,” he said. “It (the Tour de France) is the best training block you can have.”
“On the bike it (knee) is fine, it’s just walking around that is the problem,” Evans added. “But the doctors assure me that by the day of the (road) race I won’t even know I had an injury.”
Alejandro Valverde of Spain is among the big favorites, along with Italy’s reigning Olympic champion Paolo Bettini, for road race gold on Saturday.
Described as one of the toughest Olympic courses in the history of the Games, the race takes the riders on a 78km tour of downtown Beijing going past all the city’s major landmarks and then up to the Great Wall before seven laps of a brutal, hilly 23.8km circuit.