Six Days Of The Worlds – Burying The Curse

Giving it The V on Cote De La Redoute, LBL. Photo: Tim deWaele

It's a widely held belief in the pro road racing ranks that winning the World Championships can have an adverse affect on the rider's following season;  The Curse of The Rainbow Jersey. And while there may be some merit to it (see Simpson, Roche, Dhaenens, Leblanc, Brochard, Astarloa, Ballan et al), it's usually more a case of the rider just not winning as many races as they would like, or expected by the fans and critics alike.  In recent times, the one rider to do more to honour the bands than any other is Cadel Evans.

From the moment he made his race-winning attack on the final climb in Mendrosio one year ago, Cadel has ridden like a man possessed, not by a curse, but more a blessing.  It was like he was saying to his many detractors “See these bands, they give me power. Eat your words, eat my dust.”  No sooner had he donned the sacred garment than he was putting in incredible, attacking rides in support of his then-teammate Phillipe Gilbert, helping him to take emphatic victories at Paris Tours and Giro de Lombardia.  Already the curse was being lifted. But it would be 2010 that would see him dig a grave and put the myth six feet under.

In a somewhat ballsy move in itself, Evans left the ProTour-licensed Lotto team and moved the the Continental registered BMC Racing team.  Not being guaranteed a spot on the Tour de France seemed to matter little to Cadel, and in fact may have even spurred him on to prove that he and the team deserved to be there on merit through letting the results do the talking.  Right from the word go at the Tour Down Under he was on the attack.

His early season form was nothing short of outstanding, taking a big win at La Fleche Wallone, 4th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and wearing the Maglia Rosa at the Giro, where he also won the Points and Azzuria jerseys before finishing 5th on GC.  Coming into the Tour on good form and with high hopes, he showed he wasn't going to sit back and wait for the race to come to him, smashing across the cobbles on the epic Stage 3, and taking the Maillot Jaune on Stage 9, despite a fractured elbow suffered in a crash early in the stage.  Unfortunately, this would see him lose big time over the next few stages, but in his newfound hardman persona, he gritted his teeth and finished in Paris, disappointed but by no means shamed.

In a year when many expected Cadel to crumble under the weight of the jersey, he rose above to gain a respect that had been unforthcoming for so long but is fully deserved.  He applied ample helpings of Rule #5, conformed admirably with Rule #15, earned himself a coveted place in The Lexicon, inhaled many a wasp, and didn't  go overboard on the stripes on his bike and kit.  Going into Sunday's race as a favourite, I for one would love to see Cadel repeat as World Champ in front of his hometown crowd, and spend another year in the jersey that he has made his in 2010.

Chapeau Cadelephant.  Or as we say in Australia, you bloody little bewdy!

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17 Replies to “Six Days Of The Worlds – Burying The Curse”

  1. I heard that Cadel has not been well all week . Could be a case of Cadelephantitis . Rumours of swollen groinage are going around.

  2. Good one Brett. I for one was cemented as a Cadel fan this year for all the reasons you state. His riding was very similar to Veino’s only Good Cadel had the rainbow cred to back him up. It’d be cool to see a defense of the title. That’s only happened what, like three times? I don’t think it’s in the cards but if Really Good Cadel shows up, which is always a possibility just impossible to predict, we could have a double rainbow on our hands.

  3. I have a love hate relationship with Cadel. I always root for the underdog and he always seemed to be just that. But he does have a tendency to get freaky and he whines too. The difference (between him and the CotHO) though is that I perceive his quirks as those of one who struggles with the pressures of trying to be an elite athlete and a nice person at the same time. I think I identify with him but maybe I’m just projecting what I perceive about myself on him. As I’ve embraced racing and new found fitness I struggle with people’s perception of me. I want to ride hard and fast ALL the time and a lot of people that I ride with perceive my hard riding as ARPishness. When in reality I just want everybody to reap what I did when I was hanging on for dear life on THEIR wheels. I’m just trying to return the favor. “You guys made me faster – I want to make you faster” But people don’t always know what’s going on in your head and so misconceptions happen and you get a reputation that might not be entirely accurate. So, anyway, I would love to see Cadel defend his title but I don’t think it will happen. But then again maybe the timing is right. He has the let down of the way things played out in the Tour and things have been pretty quiet about him lately so he might come out swinging.

  4. Yeah, the rumor mill is rife with the notion that the course is more like Stuttgart than other courses. It could happen; he was in the winning move there, and – coincidentally – that was also the scene of a successful defense.

  5. Good one Brett. It’s great to see someone like Cadel use the Rainbow jersey as an affirmation of his ability. He won that jersey the hard way and he has taken it to his competition throughout 2010. This must be his best 12 months of his pro career?

    and didn’t go overboard on the stripes on his bike and kit

    whew…I thought you were going to show a photo of Cipo as an example of rainbow excess.

  6. Having watched the TT’s and the under-23 race I’d say there is a good chance the race will end in a bunch sprint. The uphill finish isn’t that uphill. No-one can afford to take Cavendish to the finish. Belgium, Italy, Netherlands and Australia amongst others will need to get their hitters away anyway as they can’t afford any bunch sprint. USA and Norway would be gambling to allow a sprint, might not have any option in the matter for their teams, but I’d expect Thor and Corn-fed to be up for the challenge

    I don’t see the finish as being steep enough to undo Cav, he would have to lose the race if he is in the mix at the end.

    Millar stated that the race would explode, but the under-23 didn’t.

    Gilbert, will attack the last time up the big hill, however it will have to be a huge attack not to be brought back on the long straights to the finish. Cancellara could be the key and if he got away along with Gilbert would be one of the few I’d give a chance of staying away.

  7. Good one on Cuddles Brett, but I have to say, I thought that the Curse is alive and well in that Cuddles has been nuetered all year absent Stage 7 in the Giro. The other results are short of a podium and short of what I would claim as ‘stellar’.

  8. I’m going to try and watch the road race online via Eurosport. I’m trying to figure out what time it will be on in the eastern U.S. (EST). Anyone know?

    It starts at 10:00 on Sunday Aussie time, but there is daylight savings kicking in.

    Does that mean it’ll be on at 17:00 Saturday for me? Or is my math way off…

  9. @john

    and didn’t go overboard on the stripes on his bike and kit

    whew…I thought you were going to show a photo of Cipo as an example of rainbow excess.

    That’s what I’d thought, too. We forget, though, that Cipo is the one who invented matching your shit…when he did it, it was novel and cool. When other’s copied him, it was tacky.

    I’m with you, I struggle the same way with Cadel. But good on him – his Giro was mudtacular. The Strada will go down as one of the best stages of any race ever. Epic.

    Great analysis, mate. Faboo is quickly being a dominant rider which means I might have to reconsider loving him so damn much, but I’d certainly be stoked if he took the bands. I think my money’s on Gilbert. VSP posting shortly – get your picks ready.

    He had a great spring and aside from a broken elbow, a good Tour…that’s better than most. Although, Boonen had a great year in the bands as well.

  10. Others have probably made this observation before, but there is something oddly V-like about the Cadelian chin cleft.

  11. Cav has 2 team mates? The rest of the teams are going to realize that taking Cav to the line is stupid and they will (or should) race accordingly. He simply doesn’t have the team to control the race, so if he wins the big teams should all kick themselves for not racing aggressively enough.

    The secret to liking Evans is to turn the volume off immediately you see him getting off his bike and before his mouth starts to move. He has had a great year, shown massive amounts of V (that win in the Giro was truly a magnificent ride). If you look at his career through the filter of this year I think you have to doff your hat to the guy. He’s a pretty accomplished bike racer.

  12. @Nof Landrien
    the on ething about the worlds is that they tend to be very negative, a wearing down process whereby the strongest and those able to cover the distance will be there at the end.

    Cavendish is not in a position to even think about controlling the race and must simply ride as per other teams. The three British riders will be sitting tight and following wheels, they are all very experienced PROs and can last the distance. Millar will be slated for any break with the main hitters in it that goes in the last couple of laps. Hunt is there to watch out for Cav and to lead him out. Cav might even have to ensure he gets his own bottles and food. I wouldn’t rule him out, but he’ll need luck and other teams incompetence (hence why I wouldn’t rule him out).

  13. @Jarvis
    I think it’s telling that Bettini did not include a sprinter for the Italians. Jesus, if he can’t read a course like this who can? I’m not putting Cav on the podium. Gilbert, Pozzato, Faboooo, these sort of excitable boys should do well. I would be most excited to see Fabu win, just because…he’s Faboooulous

  14. @Souleur
    Harsh! He hadn’t won a road race before Worlds, has won two since, and held both the yellow and pink jerseys! If that’s a bad year, I’d love to know who had a good one.

    The Belgians and Italians are going to ride at warp speed to try and shake the super rapid boys. Cav’s problem will be if he’s dropped before Farrar or Goss on the hills and so can’t wheel suck his way back into touch with the lead. My money’s on Alby Davis – he’s geared his whole year towards this race, and is hitting form at the right time. I think it’s too long over the top for Cadel to stay away if he hits them on the climb.

    Two outside shots for me are Stuie O’Grady and Julian Dean. The warhorses are in good nick apparently, and would both feature very highly if in a small selection late. It’s going to be a great race regardless! Hopefully the Victorian people aren’t all too hungover to get on board and watch.

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