Suddenly, the signs are good for Cadel Evans becoming the first Australian to win the Tour de France.
But Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks had a feeling it could be Evans' year – a week before the event began.
wonder Fredericks is daring to dream of Evans wearing the yellow jersey
on the Champs Elysees, after the Australian became the bookies'
favourite with an outstanding effort in the 16th stage.
Fredericks said Evans' confidence became obvious to him when he heard the 34-year-old interviewed in the lead up to the race.
week before the tour, he reminded an interviewer that he was a rider
who had finished second in the Tour by 23 seconds – that stood out for
me," Fredericks told AAP.
"And I think he has taken that into the Tour – that every second counts.
"Evans is certainly in the form of his life, and he is riding a planned and structured race.
"I believe if ever he has a chance, this is it. He has put himself in the box seat."
of Sunday's finish in Paris, Evans moved from third to second on the
16th stage, gaining 18 seconds to close within 1m45s of overall leader,
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler.
Fredericks clearly does not want to
jinx Evans – especially with the Australian being no stranger to bad
luck at the event in the past.
Evans finished runner-up in the 2007 and 2008 Tours – by just 23 and 58 seconds respectively.
And his 2009 chances were cruelled by a broken elbow.
Yet Fredericks couldn't help himself when asked about an Evans' victory in 2011.
"I am trying to keep my head on but, certainly in terms of the boost to the sport, it would be wonderful," he said.
only have to go back when Cadel first came second, seeing the impact
that it had on interest and awareness of the sport – and that was when
he just made it on the podium.
"But wearing the yellow in Paris is a major feat. People who win it become legends overnight."
Fredericks knows plenty of work has to be done for Evans to create history – but he backs the "tough little bugger".
way he won the world championship (in 2009) is a testament to what he
can do when he knows what needs to be done and execute a plan," he said.
"He's a very tenacious rider, a tough little bugger. We are all starting to believe he can do it.
"Of course (three-time champion Alberto) Contador only has to pull out one big stage and he is back in the mix.
"But he (Evans) seems to be able to match the challenges thrown at him.
"He's making all the right moves.
"If he only has a few seconds to make up at the time-trial, I think he has the capacity to do it (win)."
moved to outright $2.10 favourite after the 16th stage, according to
Sportingbet Australia, ahead of Contador who came in from $5.00 in to