The King is Dead; Long May He Whine

As a connoisseur of bad news for Cadel Evans, the defending champion of the Tour de France, I can’t help but savor the bitterness in this hometown report of his latest Tour travails:

“Cadel Evans’s Tour de France miseries have continued with more struggles on the final mountain phase of the race. The defending champion finished the 143.5km stage from Bagneres to Peyragudes in 18th place, 2mins,10secs behind convicted drug cheat Alejandro Valverde.”

That is a thing of beauty. The hero is struggling. But let’s put the spotlight on someone who was once busted for doping (and has served his penalty. If memory serves, he’s the second rider on this Tour, along with Garmin’s David Millar, to come back from a doping ban to win a stage).

As for Cadel: Yes, I half-ashamedly admit I’ve rooted against him for most of his career. And he reminded me why yesterday, when he blew up during a brutally tough stage in the Pyrenees and then explained it all happened because he had a bad tummy. That is the Cadel we had come to know and love before last year’s victory: the one who was quick with an alibi for every bad day. You just wonder why he doesn’t do what most of the other riders seem to do and say something like, “You know, I just didn’t have it today.”

In the end, I think Phil Liggett had it right in his recap for Australian TV: Evans didn’t have the form he had last year, “and the Tour always finds you out.”

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