Just 24 hours after Australian cycling was thrown into despair
over the tragic accident that decimated our AIS women’s road squad in Germany,
Melbourne’s Cadel Evans was literally scaling the heights of the Tour de France.

On today’s 180km leg from Mourenx to Pau
at the base of the Pyrenees, Evans was fourth over the line, just
behind stage winner Oscar Pereiro, but the undoubted star of today’s
16th and final mountain stage. Not only did Evans finally attack
but he also rode himself into 7th
place on the general classification behind leader Lance Armstrong.

Surely only
bad luck can now deprive Armstrong of a historic and deserved seventh straight
win in Paris
this weekend, but the day really did belong to the one-time wunderkind of
Australian cycling as he showed what a mountain goat he can be if given the
opportunity. And it shows that Australia
really does have a potential Tour winner given the right resources and team
behind him.

Evans’s ride was even more remarkable given he’s still recovering from yet another broken collarbone.

The Australian Tour riders wore black arm bands on today’s stage
as a mark of respect to their fallen comrade Amy Gillett and her injured teammates in Germany, and
all spoke of their devastation at the news.

Peter Fray

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