So far, so good as Cadel Evans guns for the Tour

PARIS Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:17pm EDT

BMC's Cadel Evans of Australia cycles during the individual time trial prologue of the Dauphine cycling race in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, French Alps, June 5, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Pratta

BMC's Cadel Evans of Australia cycles during the individual time trial prologue of the Dauphine cycling race in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, French Alps, June 5, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Pratta

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PARIS (Reuters) - Sickness, injury and bad luck have hampered Cadel Evans on previous major cycling races. This year, the Australian hopes the Tour de France will give him a maiden grand tour title.

"So far, so good," Evans said of his preparations after finishing second overall earlier this month at the Criterium de Dauphine.

Evans has had five top-five finishes in the Tour, the Vuelta and the Giro d'Italia. The Tour runner-up in 2007 and 2008, he set out in pursuit of a rare Giro and Tour double last year but ended up empty-handed.

"Last year I was sick during the Giro and I did not come out of it very well," Evans told Reuters as he prepared for Saturday's start of the French race.

"It was hard on my body because I was sick, sick too because of the effort, but I'm certainly a lot fresher this year."

Evans finished fifth in last year's Giro after feeling ill during the race and he wore the leader's yellow jersey on the Tour before breaking his elbow and dropping out of contention.

"I had a really good Tour, I had 1:40 on (eventual winner Alberto) Contador going into the first mountain stages but without knowing I had broken my elbow the day before or so. That was a bit unfortunate but these things happen," the 2009 world champion said.

"But you put it behind you, keep it going."

Bad luck also struck the Australian in the 2009 Vuelta, when a puncture during the final climb in the Sierra Nevada ruined his chances as the neutral support crew were unable to change his wheel while the car of his own Silence-Lotto team was stuck in a traffic jam.

This year on the Tour, with what he believes is a strong team and good preparation, Evans will be in top condition, having skipped the Giro.

"(I did not change) a great deal actually," he said of his preparations.

"Last year the first part of my season was geared toward the Giro and then coming out of the Giro I geared toward the Tour.

"This year I had a solid build-up going toward the Tour and this (the Dauphine) is sort of a final touch-up in terms of competition toward the Tour and it gives you a little bit more time and capacity of controlling things a little bit better."

At 34, Evans will not get many more chances to win a grand tour but he is confident about the ability of his one-year-old BMC Racing team.

"This year I think we have an even stronger team than last year," he said. "Last year we had a good team and so on but it was a bit rushed in the end; seven months to build a Tour team is a bit of a rush."

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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