Cadel Evans was close to tears as he sat on the steps of the BMC team bus and tried to explain what had happened during his miserable stage 9 of the Tour de France to team owner Jim Ochowicz and directeur sportif John Lelangue.
Evans was still wearing the yellow jersey but finished eight minutes behind Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador and admitted that his chances of victory in the Tour were now over.
Evans started the stage with his elbow heavily strapped and after the stage Ochowitz revealed that Evans had ridden with a fractured elbow.
Evans admitted that he was badly affected by his crash early on Sunday’s stage.
“I’m not at my normal level, but when you’re in yellow at the Tour de France, you’ve got to be there,” he said.
“The team was just fantastic but I’m the one who had the crash two days ago. I’m the one that is wearing the jersey and I’m the one that is vulnerable. I’m not my normal self if I get dropped by a group like that. Normally today was a chance for the stage win and it wouldn’t have an effect on the GC. Now I’m pretty sure it’s all over for this year.”
Evans apologized to his teammates and team owner.
“This year there’s been two health problems: the Giro and now here things aren’t at my normal level. I put in a lot of work and I suffer on my bike everyday and I do it with pleasure. For the guys who have supported me and been so good, the team and Andy Rihs, the owner of the team and everyone who has believed in this project, I’m just so sorry to let them all down.”
Ochowicz explained that the fracture to Evans’ elbow was discovered during the rest day on Monday, but the team did not want to reveal the problem before the stage today.
“During the rest day, Cadel’s elbow shoulder and hip were still bothering him so Dr. Testa took him to the clinic in Morzine and he has a fracture in his elbow,” Ochowicz said.
“We decided as a team not to tell anybody about it and try and fake it through the race and get to the finish. We didn’t want to let our competitors know and have them attacking him during the race on the early climbs.”
“We controlled the race today, knowing that we had a problem with Cadel’s injury but we weren’t sure what the outcome was going to be. You saw the outcome, he doesn’t have full mobility in his elbow and so had difficulty staying with the group, even when we were doing tempo. At the end, the injury just overwhelmed him.”
Dr. Testa confirmed that Evans will continue in the race unless there is a risk of permanent damage.
“It’s a stable fracture – small – but very painful,” Testa said. “Cadel is a super tough guy so he managed very well. He did as much as any human could do.”
Courtesy Stephen Farrand