Sunday, 24 July 2011

Cadel Evans.

On my shelf is a copy of Laurent Fignons Autobiography. Last Christmas my father and I exchanged copies of it. It is a semi-regular occurrence; we buy each other the same book, last year it was inevitable. I haven't read it. I haven't even opened it. I can't. Laurent Fignon, who died last year, stands for everything that was right with The Tour De France, he was my boyhood hero and I get a lump in my throat every time I try to read it. I'm not sure why I am upset. It could be because I vividly remember hearing the Radio 4 news announce that he had lost the 1989 tour by 8 seconds; I was building a balsawood plane in my bedroom (I was 14 and had a secret uncool hobby) and my disappointment was all encompassing. I don't know if I am now upset for the loss of my hero or for the loss of that 14 year old.

This is at the heart of my emotional connection with the Tour De France. I grew up with it and its' stars. Bernard Hinault, Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon, Stephen Roche, Pedro Delgado, Big Mig, and when I moved on to University I lost track of it like an old school friend that you don't keep in touch with until you realise how much you miss them. I dipped in and out during the dope filled 90's and 00's but the racers never captured me emotionally the way that Fignon did.

Recently I have found my passion for it again. The characters are back, the racing seems as good as it always was, and the crashes would make Djamolidine Abdoujaparov proud.

However, I don't like Cadel Evans.

Sorry I had to say it. Cadel Evans will be the first Australian to win The Tour and well done to him. The time trial was a blistering example of how to win back time, and it was one of the best rides ever nearly eclipsing Sean Yates' Washquehal stage for drama.

I just don't like him.

This is why.

Since working in the media and understanding the pressures of journalists trying to get the story and knowing how the press and the TV are the things that sell the concept of a sporting event I think that Cadel Evans gives bad interview. Yes I know that he is a sportsman that got into professional cycling because he loves it and is very good at it, but without the media there would be no professional sport. The media shows the event to a worldwide audience, allows the sponsors to get the advertising which in turn puts money into the sport. Without the media the Tour De France would be a jolly little event for amateurs who could afford to get there. Don't forget that the race was started as a publicity stunt by a News Paper.

To give you an extreme example of Cadel Evans giving bad interview have a look at this...

OK, he had crashed the previous day and was a bit sore, but it still doesn't show him in the best light. There was also the occasion of him riding into his hotel the moment he got to the top of Alp D'Huez this year. The interviewers were chasing him down a corridor and he was giving 1 word answers. I know that he had just ridden up a mountain but everyone else had the ability and the humility to talk to the cameras. It was like he was the most important person in the world and the vast audience watching was irrelevant. (Andy Schleck gave a very nice interview thank you very much.)

As a media commentator I have to look at these things with a jaded eye. As a cycling fan who misses his hero Laurent Fignon I watch it with my heart not my head. Cadel Evans is a great cyclist and I will never take that away from him, but he's no Fignon. Like the title of Fignons autobiography that still sits on my shelf I can't help feeling that yes "We Were Young And Carefree" and now we're not.

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