While the official finishing line awaited Evans on the final day of the race in Paris, his victory was sealed when he snatched victory during the time trial on the penultimate day of the event.
The day before, during the final climbing section of the race, a bike breakdown appeared to have left Evans far removed from leadership contention in the Tour de France. But an amazing fightback then brought him within reach of victory with just the time trial to come.
With the same steely resolved he has shown all race, and in fact for years of Tor de France competition, he finished the 42 kms in 55 minutes and 40 seconds, nearly three minutes faster than Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck who until then was leading the event.
Evans, now wearing the yellow jersey, led the contingent of riders into Paris with an overall race lead of about 96 seconds. Tradition dictates that leaders are rarely contested on this final leg, all he needed to do was finish the event with the main group which he did, riding onto the Avenue des Champs-Élysées as the first Australian winner.
Not much is known of the inner motivations of Evans other than he was a country boy who learned to ride a bike at a very young age, got used to riding alone in the country areas in which he grew up (around Katherine, Armidale, Barwon Heads) and that he once rode in a race with a Tibetan flag on his undershirt to support Tibetan freedom.
His mum, Helen Cocks, says, “He is a simple man who likes simple things. He will be the same Cadel [after winning the Tour de France], probably just relieved,” she said. And in Chiara, his Italian wife, she said her son had a partner who kept people’s feet firmly on the ground.
Oh, and he barracks for Geelong in the AFL – enough said.
Wikipedia supplies these biographic details for Cadel Evans:
“Evans was born in Katherine, Northern Territory. He is married to Chiara Passerini, an Italian music teacher whom he met at the end of 2002. The two were introduced by a friend of her father’s. Evans inherited his surname from his great-grandfather who hailed from Wales, and his first name is also of Welsh origin (‘Cadell‘ being the name of three Welsh kings). Evans attended Eltham High School in Melbourne, Victoria during his teenage years. In 2008, Evans wore a cycling undershirt with the Flag of Tibet and supported freedom for Tibet. He said: ‘Trying to bring awareness of the Tibet movement is something someone in my position can do. I just feel really sorry for them. They don’t harm anyone and they are getting their culture taken away from them. I don’t want to see a repeat of what happened to Aboriginal culture [in Australia] happen to another culture.’ Evans has stated that it was his early years growing up in Armidale that was the inspiration for his cycling career. Additionally, the city’s higher altitude gave Evans an early edge in competition. Whilst living in Armidale, Evans attended Newling public school.”
Meanwhile, the elation in France is in stark contrast to the grief of Norway. While we weep with those who are weeping in Norway we take a moment to rejoice with those who rejoice in France and Australia.