Tour De France: Cadel Evans Will Still Ride to Victory After Slow Year

Steven GerwelFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2012

LIEGE, BELGIUM - JUNE 30:  Cadel Evans of Australia riding for BMC Racing races to 13th place in the prologue of the 2012 Tour de France on June 30, 2012 in Liege, Belgium.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

While a dark cloud is looming over the sport of cycling for a steroid doping scandal that's more severe but less publicized than Major League Baseball's era of doping, one man is still hoping for a chance to achieve something positive. 

Cadel Evans, the Australian defending Tour De France title-holder, is looking to repeat his success. And in the process, perhaps he can provide the sport with a recognizable face that hasn't been slammed with charges from the Anti-Doping Agency, unlike legend Lance Armstrong.

But at the age of 35, will Evans be able to repeat his 2011 success? 

At first glance, Evans' age is not a major concern since there have been 22 Tour De France winners who were 30 years or older since the race resumed in 1947 after the end of WWII. 

But while a racer in his thirties winning the trophy is not terribly uncommon, a repeat win would make Evans the oldest racer to ever win during the post-war era. 

It would also make him the second-oldest winner in Tour De France history and the oldest winner since Firmin Lambot in 1922 (36 years old). 

With his age increasing, some believe they have sensed a decline. 

Evans was forced to pull out of the Amstel Gold race last April and did not finish the final 65 kilometers. 

Evans also completely missed the spring classic races in Belgium and Holland last Spring. 

The reason was unknown at the time, but Evans was forced to abandon his BMC team and pull out of the races due to a debilitating sinus infection. 

The infection has passed, and what seemed to be a slow start to the year was actually the result of a legitimate illness, rather than old age. 

In an effort to bounce back, Evans won stage one at Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month. He ultimately lost the race, but the effort was enough to prove that he has returned to form and is ready for France. 

The odds are clearly against Evans, but as a new father who adopted his son last Christmas, he'll have a little extra motivation going into this year's race. 

If Evans can become the second-oldest winner in Tour De France history, it will provide the sport with a new icon. 

And perhaps, the new icon will ultimately lead the sport past the dark cloud of the steroid era.