GRENOBLE, France (AP) ― Cadel Evans seized the Tour de France yellow jersey in the next-to-last stage Saturday, all but giving Australia its first victory in cycling’s showpiece event and capping one of the most dramatic races in years.
The two-time runner-up took the overall lead by overcoming a 57-second deficit to Andy Schleck of Luxembourg in the time trial.
A red-eyed Evans choked up on the victory podium, holding back tears before hurling the winner’s bouquet into the crowd.
“I really can’t quite believe it right now,” the 34-year-old Aussie said. “I have been concentrating on one event for so long.”
Although there is one more stage ― Sunday’s ceremonial finish along the Champs-Elysees in Paris ― the leader after the time trial is almost certain to be the winner. Launching a successful attack during that flat ride is virtually impossible.
This year’s edition of the 108-year-old race was tense all the way ― a riveting finish and without a serious doping blight that marred past Tours.
The Schleck brothers, knowing they had lost, embraced after the finish line of the 26-mile time trial. Evans leads Andy Schleck by 1:34, and Frank Schleck by 2:30.