Defending Tour De France champion Cadel Evans has, if you'll excuse the pun, an uphill battle facing him as he attempts to catch leader Bradley Wiggins after Tuesday's rest day.
Wiggins has looked extremely strong in two key areas thus far in the Tour—climbing through the mountains and, after winning Stage 9, as a time-trial rider.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Wiggins looked good in the time trial seeing as that type of stage is his bread and butter. From Jon Brand of The New York Times:
Wiggins, an Olympic track champion, started his career in track racing, which demands upper-body stillness. That talent translates especially well to individual time trials; without the wind protection of fellow riders, being as aerodynamic as possible is essential.
It has helped Wiggins achieve exceptional success this season: he has won three of the five stage races he entered, including the Paris-Nice in March, and has not lost an individual time trial of length.
"My school was on the track," he said. "We did a lot of kilometers in this position when I was young."
That certainly isn't good news for Evans, especially with another time trial in Stage 19 that could negate any positive gains he is able to make on Wiggins before then.
This week in particular will be vital, as the racers head to the Alps for two difficult days of inclines that should paint a clearer picture of which racers will be competing for glory and which will simply be riding out the string.
Cadel Evans will defend his Tour De France title this year.
If Evans can't make up some time in these stages or stay where he is now, he may find himself facing insurmountable odds to catch Wiggins. Truly, the next two days are of vital importance to the defending champion.
We'll certainly know if any other riders are up to the task of challenging Evans and Wiggins for the top spot in this year's event. That seems unlikely, however, and unless Evans is able to make up ground this week, it seems doubtful he'll be able to catch Wiggins himself.
Here is the current top-10 leaderboard at the Tour De France:
|1||Bradley Wiggins||Sky Procycling||39h 09' 20''||N/A
Cadel Evans ||
BMC Racing Team ||39h 11' 13'' ||+01' 53''
|3||Christopher Froome ||Sky Procycling ||39h 11' 27'' ||+02' 07''
Vincenzo Nabali ||
Liquigas-Cannondale ||39h 11' 43'' ||+02' 23''
|5||Denis Menchov ||Katusha Team ||39h 12' 22'' ||+03' 02''
Haimar Zubeldia ||
Radioshack-Nissan ||39h 12' 39'' ||+03' 19''
Maxime Monfort ||
Radioshack-Nissan ||39h 13' 43'' ||+04' 23''
Tejay Van Garderen ||
BMC Racing Team ||39h 14' 34'' ||+05' 14''
Jurgen Van Den Broeck ||Lotto-Belisol Team ||39h 14' 40'' ||+05' 20''
|10||Nicolas Roche ||AG2R La Mondiale ||39h 14' 49'' ||+05' 29''
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