Cadel Evans won his second Tour de Romandie on Sunday and hailed the victory in his adopted country as a boost for his main goal of the season, the Tour de France.
“It’s almost a home win for me. Switzerland is the place I picked when I decided to move to the northern hemisphere as a mountain biker in 1998 and I’ve lived here for the last 12 years,” the Australian 2009 road world champion said after the final, 164.6km stage.
Evans, who won his first major stage event in Romandie five years ago, repeated the feat ahead of two other Tour de France contenders, up-and-coming German Tony Martin and veteran Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan.
Thanks to his fine effort in the penultimate time trial at Signal de Bougy park, the Australian finished 18 seconds ahead of Paris-Nice winner Martin overall and another second ahead of former Vuelta a Espana champion Vinokourov.
“Romandie was the first pro tour-level race I won and we also rode past the village of Lugnorre in which I settled in 1998, as well as the Neuchatel headquarters of the company I signed with when I came to Europe,” said Evans, who became world champion two years ago in the Swiss town of Mendrisio.
Evans was sidelined for a month by a knee injury in March, after winning the Tirreno-Adriatico, and said he was surprised to be back in form so early.
“It’s a pleasant surprise, but it shows what good work my BMC team staff did to bring me back to shape,” the Australian said.
Twice a Tour de France runner-up, the 34-year-old all-rounder has often been hampered by the lack of a strong team to support him, but he said the current BMC lineup was probably the strongest he had known.
“We already had a strong team last year, but unfortunately I broke my arm [on the Tour],” Evans said.
“I definitely believe we have an even better team this year and races like this are ideal to get to know each other ahead of the Tour. I hope my victories in Tirreno and here will give my teammates that little bit of extra motivation for the rest of the season,” he said.
Evans was seldom attacked in Sunday’s final stage to Geneva, despite the presence of two first-category climbs on the course.
After several unsuccessful breaks, the peloton reached Geneva fully packed and the mass sprint was won by up-and-coming British sprinter Ben Swift, already winner of two stages in the Tour Down Under earlier in the season.
Swift, 23, beat three-time world champion Oscar Freire on the line after a great team effort by his Sky teammates.
“It’s a great honor to beat Oscar, he is the kind of rider I would like to develop into,” Swift said.