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Cadel Evans' Giro d'Italia Diary 2002

The first 10 days

May 24, 2002

'Are we there yet? When does it get really hard?'

Cyclingnews.com caught up with Grand Tour debutante Cadel Evans inside the Mapei team bus as he was on the way to Campobasso, the start of stage 12, a 200km roller-coaster stage that is likely to create another selection.

Evans has recovered from the shock - not of the race - but of losing his team leader in controversial circumstances. In his first-ever three-week tour, Evans was in 10th place on GC after stage 11, just over 4 minutes behind race leader Jens Heppner. He is also in good health and in good spirits, raring to get into yet another hard stage.

Q: After the prologue, how has the Giro been so far?

A: Initially, the Giro wasn't too hard in the first week, as I only saw the front (of the bunch) twice in the whole week! And that was because I had (Stefano) Garzelli on my wheel in the final climb of stage 5 (where Evans did his job and Garzelli won the stage).

I came to the Giro with two aims - one was to work for the team, and the other was to gain experience. But with the changes to our team, that's changed and now they can help work for my place on GC.

I think my inexperience (in big tours) has cost me some time in the overall standings, and there were a couple of little things I did which I can put down to inexperience. But if you lose say, five, 10 or even 20 seconds on a stage, well, you're not too worried if Garzelli is in the pink jersey. But then afterwards things change and you realise that the time you lost could be up to four or five places on GC; so it's all about learning.

Q: How are you feeling after the first 11 stages - are there any ailments?

A: No, there's no ailments and I'm feeling pretty good actually. There's nothing serious and Mapei are monitoring everyone very closely to see how their bodies are going and they're very happy with me.

Q: But the morale must have suffered when the announcement concerning Garzelli was made? (Race leader Stefano Garzelli was forced out of the Giro after returning a positive test for a banned diuretic after stage 2.)

A: Yes, that wasn't good at all. (Cyclingnews can report that Evans was much chirpier today than when we caught up with him on the morning of the Garzelli announcement, when he sounded somewhat shell-shocked).

All I can say is that I've got no facts to add, we've said everything we know to the press, but yes, it (the doping case) is peculiar, very peculiar.

Q: So with Garzelli out of the Giro, has the team made you their leader for GC?

A: No, not really, it's both No and I (Andrea No, the Italian rider from Mapei only 19 seconds behind Evans on GC after stage 11). He's the more experienced rider and for Mapei to put all the eggs with me isn't the best plan at this stage.

Q: Have you had a chance to look at any of the mountain stages to come?

A: Well, I've had a look at the Numana time trial stage (stage 14) and I also knew the finish of stage 5, because that was the same as Liege-Bastogne-Liege and I did that race last month. But apart from that, they're all new climbs for me.

Q: Do you find any benefit in knowing what's to come in the big climbs? Have you found yourself finishing some of the climbs with a little left in reserve because you're not sure just how hard you can push yourself?

A: It's sort of like the opposite. When you don't know it (the climb), you're always paying attention and riding close to the front. So you ride to stay at the front. But if you do know the climb, then you'll think it's OK to sit in towards the back and when you're coming to a selective area, then you'll try to move up and get a better position for that area and you have to expend more energy to do that. But if you don't know the climb, the same thing can happen anyway, so it can work both ways.

Q: But how have you managed on the climbs so far?

A: Well, we've had the flat stages and I've been asking the guys, 'when is it getting really hard? When do we get into the really hard mountains?'. But I've looked at the profile and I think after today's stage there'll be another re-shuffle; it's a real test today.

CadelEvans.com - Cadel's own website