July 23, 2011
As the top Tour de Francecontenders set off Saturday, one by one, on the stage that would decide the overall winner, the Australian Cadel Evans stared straight ahead, his face blank. He knew he trailed Andy Schleck of Luxembourg by 57 seconds. He also knew that in the relatively short distance of 26 miles he needed to close that gap.
Cadel Evans of Australia started the decisive 26-mile time trial 57 seconds behind Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, but he finished in the overall lead.
Andy Schleck of Luxembourg strained as he headed to the finish line on Saturday. He finished in second over all.
Schleck left last, gritting his teeth, clad in the leader’s yellow jersey. He had worked for nearly three weeks to secure that jersey late Friday evening, but it became clear early, as Evans cut into Schleck’s lead, chewing up the deficit in large chunks and then some, that Schleck would not hold onto it much longer.
Instead, as Evans shot like a rocket into the finish, he was all but assured to become the first Australian to win the Tour de France. He did so with a steady performance throughout and a dominating run on Saturday.
Andy Schleck, still only 26 years old, finished as the runner-up for the third-consecutive year, which reinforced his reputation as an elite climber who struggles elsewhere. Frank Schleck, Andy’s brother, is third in the overall standings. Thomas Voeckler of France, who held the yellow jersey from Stage 9 until Friday, was fourth over all and the three-time champion Alberto Contador of Spain was fifth. Tony Martin of Germany won Saturday’s stage.
Here they were, late in the afternoon, two cyclists who know what it feels like to come in second in this race by a margin as slim as Schleck’s biceps. In the two previous Tours, Schleck finished second to Spain’s Albert Contador; same as Evans in 2007. Evans lost that race by 23 seconds (and also finished second in 2008). Schleck dropped the 2010 version by 39 seconds.
After more than 2,100 miles, they arrived here, with Andy Schleck 53 seconds ahead of Frank and 57 seconds ahead of Evans. What remained: a 26-mile sprint to decide who would sip champagne on Sunday’s ceremonial ride into Paris.
The suspense, Schleck said Friday, was perfect.
Schleck opened his gap against Evans on Thursday, with an audacious attack earlier than expected into Stage 18. He did not, however, expand that gap Friday, opening the door for Evans to showcase his time trial skills, widely considered superior to Schleck’s.
Evans seemed to hold several advantages. He stands four inches shorter than Schleck, which, in theory, makes him more aerodynamic. Then there was his comfort level, both as a former mountain bike champion accustomed to racing hard for an entire stage and his knowledge of the course for Saturday’s stage, which he rode to a six-place finish in a competition last month.
Last year, Schleck trailed Contador by eight seconds entering the final time trail. He lost ground to Contador, but not nearly as much as in 2009. This showed, perhaps, his continued time trial improvement. When Schleck looked at this trial in particular, he also saw two ascents that suited him more than Evans, and he also held the advantage of going last, so he would know exactly how much time he needed to maintain his advantage late.
“It will be much more about who still has the most energy left,” Schleck said, as if he wanted to convince himself. “And I still do.”
For the Tour de France to come down to the final competitive stage is rare. For it to be decided by an individual time trial is rarer still. For inspiration, though, Evans could look to Greg LeMond, who made up 50 seconds in a 1989 time trial to seize victory in the overall race.
Technically one rider could gain ground Sunday, too, although that appeared less than unlikely, closer to impossible. The final stage into Paris is as flat as a cyclist’s stomach, and the peloton is almost certain to finish in one huge, seething mass.
For Schleck or Evans to lose time, one would need to crash (unlikely because the stage moves slowly), or suffer a mechanical issue (unlikely, but both are famously cursed in this regard). Should such an issue arise, the rider is still likely to catch the peloton, with help from teammates and friends.
Cadel Lee Evans was born on February 14th, 1977 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadel_Evans
February 14th, 1977
2 + 14 +2+0+1+1 = 20 = his personal year (from February 14th, 2011 to February 13th, 2012) = Turning point.
20 year + 7 (July) = 27 = his personal month (from July 14th, 2011 to August 13th, 2011) = Potentially the first Australian to win the Tour de France.
27 month + 24 (24th of the month on Sunday July 24th, 2011) = 51 = his personal day = It’s official.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
Cadel Lee Evans
31453 355 54151 45
his path of destiny / how he learns what he is here to learn = Hardcore. True grit.
find out your own numerology at: