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Cadel Evans: Tour was 'a pleasure' -

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Cadel Evans: Tour was 'a pleasure'

James Bennett reported this story on Monday, July 25, 2011 08:00:00

TONY EASTLEY: Australian cyclist Cadel Evans, is now the official winner of the Tour de France.
After crossing the finish line in Paris, he said he's enjoyed every minute of the gruelling race.

How someone could get enjoyment from riding day after day, much of it up mountains, is beyond many
people, but for Evans the victory is a dream come true and a huge boon to Australian cycling.

Evans is the first Australian to win the world's premier road cycling race.

CYCLING COMMENTATOR: Looking down there you can just see the yellow jersey. This is the win. There
is the man who has won the Tour de France, Cadel Evans. The first Australian to win the Tour de
France and they are all over him.

(The Australian national anthem)

(Applause)

CYCLING COMMENTATOR: Magnificent sight. He has got the Australian flag draped around the yellow
jersey and that is a wonderful double. A perfect double.

TONY EASTLEY: Thirty-four-year-old Evans, born at Katherine in the Northern Territory, says he'll
be back to defend his title. He has been overwhelmed by the Australian support in France and his
fans were in fine voice right after their sporting hero crossed the line after riding down the
Champs-Élysées.

(Sound of singing)

Somewhere in the background you can hear, make out Evans thanking his fans.

Well, reporter James Bennett has been following the tour. He's watched Cadel Evans cross the finish
line in Paris.

James Bennett, good morning. It is being heralded as one of Australia's greatest sporting
victories. Is that how you see it there?

JAMES BENNETT: It certainly has all the feel of something that is a real watershed moment. There
has been a lot of comparisons from the spectators and supporters here to when Australia won the
America's Cup, that it really sort of heralds Australia coming of age on the world sporting stage
and taking an event that is so symbolic and so highly regarded all around Europe and indeed the
world and I think that that sense has sort of been played out in the fact that it is not only
Australian supporters that have been strongly behind Cadel Evans but a lot of Parisians, there are
a lot of French people that we have spoken to covering this tour have been firmly behind Cadel
Evans.

They've seen him come so close before, they've seen him suffer and they've seen him get back on his
bike despite terrible injuries and ride on and they really see him as a very, very deserving
winner.

TONY EASTLEY: James, what about Cadel Evans himself? As a person sometimes he has been described as
a bit prickly and uncomfortable in the spotlight. How has he handled his victory?

JAMES BENNETT: It's been a really, really quite relaxed and quite comfortable in his own skin,
Cadel Evans, would be the way I'd describe it. He has often come across before as being someone who
struggles with the spotlight and often struggles to deal by his own admission, with the nervous
energy that he generates around the high expectations that other people put on him.

But this year he seemed quite, almost philosophical, quite at ease with the concept of what it was
that he had to do and that I'd put down to his team structure.

He seemed very, very comfortable and he lavished extraordinary praise on his BMC teammates and
indeed the team structure that has helped deliver him this win and it has really been quite a
joyful thing to watch - someone who has really struggled with injuries and with team politics as
well in the past find a place where he is comfortable and to see that deliver him extraordinary
success.

CADEL EVANS: It has been a long, long, long process. It will probably be a long realisation of what
exactly has happened but it has been an amazing and a very, very, just been a real pleasure this
whole three weeks just to do just about every aspect of it.

A few people always believed in me, I believed in me and those few people in my team and a few
people around me and myself were in the end what mattered most. Here we are today and we did it.

TONY EASTLEY: What does the future hold for Cadel Evans, do you think?

JAMES BENNETT: Well, if there is one thing Cadel Evans doesn't like it is questions about his age
and certainly his team and Cadel have already made it abundantly clear that he will be back next
year to defend his tour crown and he certainly sees himself as having more than one season of
professional road racing left in him.

So it will certainly be a figurehead for Australian cycling for at least another couple of seasons
to come.

TONY EASTLEY: Reporter, James Bennett in Paris.