Evans leads way for next generation
By Tom Wald
14:29 AEST Sun Jul 24 2011

Trailblazer Phil Anderson predicts Cadel Evans' Tour de France triumph will inspire the next generation of Australian cyclists to match his mighty feats.

Anderson was a pioneer for Australian road cycling in Europe during the 1980s and the first non-European to wear the Tour's coveted yellow jersey.

He was in the crowd in Grenoble on Saturday with a tour group when Evans destroyed race leader Andy Schleck in the 42.5km time trial to put himself on track to capture cycling's greatest prize.

The 34-year-old's efforts will make him the oldest winner of the cycling classic in 88 years and only the third non-European champion alongside Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond.

Anderson said Australian cycling was in rude health and would blossom further as a result.

He believed the nation's future Tour contenders such as Richie Porte, Jack Bobridge and Cameron Meyer would all feed off Evans' breakthrough performance in the coming decade.

"Certainly, they are the future," Anderson told AAP.

"Just as maybe I paved the way in the 1980s, Cadel is paving the way for the next generation and will inspire them to go to the next level."

Within the first 15 kilometres of Saturday's time trial, last man out Andy Schleck found his lead cut to shreds by a rampant Evans, having one of the rides of his life.

Evans pushed himself to the limit, coming desperately close to crashing on a couple of occasions on downhill sections before blowing away the Schleck brothers.

Such was the Australian's pace that his BMC team bosses ordered him to slow down in the final few kilometres.

"I can't quite believe it," said Evans.

"I rode the best time trial I could."

Anderson was far from alone in singing Evans' praises as he buried the memories of missing out on Tour de France titles in 2007 and 2008 when runner up by less than a minute.

Seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong arrived in Grenoble in time to watch Evans turn a 57-second deficit into a one minute and 34 second lead in the picturesque heart of the French Alps.

"Congratulations to Cadel Evans. #thatwasademonstration," Armstrong twittered.

Evans deserves every bit of praise for his efforts, he had to pull off two dramatic recovery missions in the final two alpine stages on Thursday and Friday to reel in surging mountain men Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador.

"I had the legs to do it," Evans said.

"Maybe I did not have the legs to do it in years gone by.

"I did not have any choice and I did what I had to do.

"Fortunately it puts me in this position."

The Switzerland-based superstar became emotional following the time trial after fulfilling the ambitions of his late coach Aldo Sassi of Italy, who died from cancer at 51 late last year.

"He said to me at one point last year, 'I'm sure you can win a grand tour (Tour de France, Tour of Italy, Tour of Spain).

"I hope for you it is the Tour de France, because that's the biggest and most prestigious tour.

"But if you do that you will become the most complete rider of your generation'."

It is 97 years since Australia was first represented at the Tour de France.

Anderson said the nation wouldn't have wait so long for the next Australian to climb on top of the podium at Champs Elysees in the yellow jersey.

"There will be kids turning on the TV and watching what Cadel has done and they will start thinking about taking up cycling," he said.

"It just shows it is achievable for a kid from the outback or a kid from Melbourne ... or wherever."

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