Tour de France: Evans loses Tour crown in the Pyrenees
By Gilles Le Roc'h
BAGNERES DE LUCHON, France (Reuters) - Defending champion Cadel Evans bowed to the heat and the four Pyrenean climbs on the 16th stage of the Tour de France to surrender his crown on Wednesday.
"It's over for the Tour victory," admitted his BMC team manager Jim Ochowicz at the end of the 197-km ride from Pau, won by Frenchman Thomas Voeckler.
Evans, the first Australian to win the world's leading cycling race a year ago, lost ground on the final Aspin and Peyresourde climbs to finish nearly 12 minutes behind the day's winner and nearly five behind Tour leader Bradley Wiggins.
Overall, he now lies seventh, 8:06 behind the Briton, far too wide a gap to bridge before the finish in Paris on Sunday.
Evans started struggling in the first-category Aspin pass, 50 kms from the finish, and was helped by French team mate Amael Moinard while his team director John Lelangue gave American Tejay Van Garderen the go-ahead to tend to his best young climber's white jersey.
The Peyresroude pass, overlooking the spa town of Bagneres de Luchon, was even more painful for the Australian, a shadow of last year's winner in the scorching heat.
"I don't think it's possible to be on the podium anymore. But there are still two of us in the top 10 and the white jersey to defend," said Van Garderen, who now sits a spot above his leader in sixth place.
TIMID ATTACKS Continued...