Cadel fulfils a burning desire

EIGHT months ago, Australia's golden boy Cadel Evans returned to the Coffs Coast and made no secret his steely determination was to win the world's largest annual sporting event.

Twice runner-up in the Tour de France, he was factored out of favouritism by most betting agencies, with one pricing him at 26-1 pre-race to win the general classification – the first Australian to do so.

“Everyone who knows him knew he could do it, I knew he was gonna give it a real shake and he rode the perfect race,” his father Paul said.

“There I was thinking he had to make up 57 seconds on Andy Schleck in the time trial, I figured he was probably a minute fastest then Schleck so I thought he'd win by three seconds, never expecting he'd win by such a margin. What a ride,”  Paul said.

Cadel was planning his assault on the Tour when he returned home and stayed for a few days at Upper Corindi in November.

“He's wanted to go one better since the two second placings in the tour, now his goal will no doubt be winning the race twice,” he said.

Just two years ago, the Tour de France mangled Cadel Evans.

After finishing runner-up by less than a minute in 2007 and 2008, Evans seemed on the verge of greatness.

But everything went wrong in the Tour in 2009 – team dynamics, health and form.

Evans battled the weight of expectation badly and finished 30th overall.

What happened over the next couple of months said much about the character of this private and intriguing man.

First he rallied to finish third overall in the Tour of Spain, another three-week grand tour.

Then he became the first Australian to win the men's professional road race world title.

Evans himself plays down the effect of the world title, but Dave Sanders is adamant it had a major impact.

Sanders, a renowned Australian cycling coach who has known Evans for more than a decade, describes it as “Cadel before, Cadel after”.

“That world title was the exclamation mark he needed,” Sanders says.

In a sport renowned for its fearful physical and mental challenges, Evans is as tough as he is brilliant.

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