TOUR de France victor Cadel Evans may be invited to make an appearance in the October Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic.
After a thrilling performance in the world’s toughest bike race to become the first Australian winner, Evans is the sport’s new pin-up hero.
Classic race director John Craven told The Standard yesterday he was sure the event’s organising committee would consider putting in a call to the Evans camp.
“I reckon they’ll have to jump in the queue,” he said.
The Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic started in 1895 — 10 years before the French event started.
Craven, who has had professional dealings with Evans, described the Bellarine Peninsula rider as the nation’s greatest sportsman.
“I reckon it’s the most dazzling performance in the history of Australian sport,” Craven said.
“He’s had to overcome so many adversities in the past 10 years, particularly in the Tour de France.
“In my lifetime I can’t think of anything better than this.
“Cadel Evans has certainly contributed to the growth of cycling in Australia by his sheer efforts. Bikes have been outselling cars for the past 10 years.”
Warrnambool district cyclist David Tozer predicted a big contingent of south-west riders would head to Geelong when Evans returns to a hero’s reception.
“I would think many would want to show him they appreciate his efforts,” Tozer said.
“On Saturday morning the feeling among our district cyclists was apprehensive.
“Some thought the 57 seconds he had to make up was a bridge too far. But at the start of the time trial he looked very calm.”
Tozer described Evans as a “generous person”.
A few years ago Tozer and companions interviewed Evans on their community Spokes program on radio 3YB when the champion was in Australia to watch the Tour Down Under.
Tozer said Evans also gave time from his busy schedule to telephone a young injured Mount Gambier cyclist recovering in hospital.
“I have enjoyed every minute of this year’s tour coverage,” Tozer said.
“To think they raced 83 hours over three weeks and then to come down to seconds in the final stages is incredible.”