Tour de France champion Cadel Evans will be welcomed home to Australia next week with a parade through the capital of his home state of Victoria.
It was initially thought Evans, the first Australian — and only the third non-European — to win the Tour would not have time to return to Australia, but he is scheduled to make a brief trip home.
The Victoria State Government said yesterday that Evans would be “honored with a public celebration of his achievement at Federation Square” in downtown Melbourne on Friday next week.
With thousands tipped to line the the route, Evans is scheduled to cycle around 250m from the National Gallery of Victoria to Federation Square, where he will take the stage to address his fans.
Evans’ mother, Helen Cocks, says her son would be shocked at the number of fans who will come to see him.
“He’ll actually be blown away by just how happy everybody is for him,” she said. “He’s been very well known in Europe for a long time and reasonably well known here by people who follow cycling, but people who aren’t even interested in cycling have recognized this is quite an amazing sporting achievement.”
Evans, 34, lives in the Victorian coastal town of Barwon Heads when not competing during the Australian summer.
“Cadel is coming home especially for this event, which will include a short bike ride and a celebration at Federation Square, where Victorians will have a wonderful opportunity to yell for Cadel,” Victoria Premier Ted Baillieu said in a statement.
Evans’ manager Jason Bakker says the rider has been humbled by the support at home.
“He doesn’t quite understand what all the fuss is. He thinks he’s just a simple bike rider that’s ridden around a country,” Bakker said.
Evans, who this week resigned with the BMC Racing Team through to 2014, is expected to undertake a national tour later this year and the Australian Football League has expressed an interest in including the cyclist in its Grand Final day entertainment in October.
TOUR DE POLOGNE
German rider Marcel Kittel of the Skil-Shimano team continued to dominate the Tour de Pologne by winning Tuesday’s third stage from Bedzin to Katowice.
Kittel won in a sprint finish from French rider Romain Feillu of Vacansoleil at the end of the 135.7km ride to make it a hat-trick after his wins on the first two stages.
Meanwhile, Italian 2008 road race world champion Alessandro Ballan, who won the Tour de Pologne in 2009, withdrew from the event after injuring a knee in a fall on Monday’s second stage.
It was a bad day all round for Ballan as it had been announced earlier that he had been called before the Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping prosecutor accused of having consumed doping products.
The charges relate to an investigation conducted in Mantova, Lombardy, from 2008 until April this year.