RUMILLY, France (VN) — Cadel Evans achieved his Tour de France win last year after years of persistence. It reminded him never to stop fighting, a lesson that applies in any race, including this week’s Critérium du Dauphiné.
BMC Racing’s 35-year-old Aussie put race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) to the test on Friday. He worked free off the top of the hors categorie Le Grand Colombier with three teammates and gained over a minute.
But Wiggins enjoys a team rich in talent. Stage 3 winner Edvald Boasson Hagen – followed by Richie Porte, Michael Rogers and Chris Froome – chased for the Brit down the roughly 12km descent an onto the Cat. 3 Col de Richemond. Wiggins bridged solo near the top of the climb, with 45.5km to race, and passed Evans’ test.
“It was not ridiculous, but something to learn from. Not to listen to anyone else in the future because we got a bit flicked,” Wiggins said to four or five reporters at the team’s bus.
Some of the local riders, he said, told him and others to be careful on the descent because it is dangerous.
“The guys telling us that were just going ape shit downhill!” Wiggins added. “Then it split, we were a bit… Ok, we f—ed up, basically, we shouldn’t have let Cadel and them go.”
Evans peaked everyone’s attention. He raced ahead with 10 others, including Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and BMC teammates George Hincapie, Tejay van Garderen and Michael Schär. They failed, but tested one of the Tour’s new climbs and Wiggins.
The Aussie still trails Wiggins by 1:44, but because Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) cracked, he jumped ahead one spot to fourth overall.
Wiggins “definitely missed it,” BMC’s general manager, Jim Ochowicz told VeloNews. “In the downhills, you can lose the race, any race. I don’t know what their strategy was, but we tried to make the race a little interesting.”
Evans said that Europcar increased the pressure on the Colombier’s descent.
“It was a long chance, a long way from the finish, but sometimes you got to take those opportunities,” Evans explained. “It was reasonably successful because it moved me up one place on the GC. It may have helped me get on the [final] podium.”
“It was a smart move on their behalf,” Sky’s Rogers told VeloNews. “Obviously they descended better and got an advantage. Luckily we have some strong boys and were able to bring it back.”
Porte did most the work up the Richemond. Wiggins shot free and bridged to Evans’ group just before the top. The group all came back together shortly thereafter on the descent to Rumilly, and up ahead Arthur Vichot (FDJ-BigMat) rode for the eventual stage win. At the finish, Wiggins thought about Evans, his top Tour rival.
“What it does show is that Cadel is here to race,” Wiggins said. “He’s going well. You almost forget that he won a stage [on day two], so he’s going well.”