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Cadel Evans's time in the yellow jersey would be brief. He wore it for one day. (Tim de Waele photo.)
Cadel Evans's time in the yellow jersey would be brief. He wore it for one day. (Tim de Waele photo.)

BMC Racing Team Memorable Moments: The Maillot Jaune

15. January 2011

Denia, Spain

Earning the yellow jersey in the BMC Racing Team's first Tour de France appearance in 2010 did not come without moments of drama involving injury, fortitude and even a degree of secrecy. The key players look back on the occasion as the team opens its two-week training camp in Denia, Spain.

Injured In Crash
On the historic day that the BMC Racing Team would earn one of cycling's most coveted prizes, Evans crashed six kilometers into Stage 8's 189-kilometer race from Station des Rousses to Morzine-Avoria. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Evans broke a bone in his left elbow. But the world road champion soldiered on, finished the stage and donned the yellow jersey. What follows are never-before-told details from BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz, Chief Directeur Sportif John Lelangue, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa and Evans.

Ochowicz: A Choice To Make
"Cadel knew there was a problem, but it wasn't one he couldn't overcome that day. Obviously, he finished the stage and took the yellow jersey. We were thinking everything was going to be OK after that. But things changed overnight. The next morning, he felt the full extent of the injuries he received. He couldn't even move his elbow. I went on the training ride with him and he turned around almost immediately to go back to the hotel. We weren't going to take a whole crew of people to the clinic to have him evaluated. Only John (Lelangue) and Dr. Testa accompanied him. When it's serious enough to take him to the clinic, it's always a concern. Particularly when you're with the race leader, you're high profile. We had a lot of media and spectators hovering around our hotel all day. You're trying not to send a negative message out or draw any additional attention. We had a choice to make. We could tell the media he had a broken elbow or we could go to the start and not tell anybody – including the team – and let everyone race as if everything was normal. We chose the latter. We had the yellow jersey, so it was our responsibility to control the race that day. Had we announced Cadel's actual injury, it would have alerted the rest of the peloton and we could have put ourselves at an additional disadvantage. Therefore, it could have been all hell breaking loose."

Lelangue: Lots Of Riders Would've Quit
"We didn't know if he (Evans) was going to be able to finish the stage. We thought there would be fireworks on the final climb to Morzine-Avoriaz, but fortunately there was nothing. The next day was a rest day and on the training ride, Cadel turned back almost immediately and had to finish his riding on the Elite Trainer in his room. Then we went to the only clinic in Avoriaz that did X-rays and immediately, you could see his elbow was broken. But he was in yellow. There was no way you can leave the Tour like that (withdrawing due to injury). We didn't want anyone to know he was having a problem, otherwise there would have been attacking left and right. It was a big show of courage by the rainbow jersey. A lot of riders in that situation would have quit."

Dr. Testa: Thought Tour Was Over
"In the minutes after the crash, Cadel wasn't complaining about his elbow. We gave him some painkillers and I didn't think much of it. But at the finish line, it was his elbow that was in the most pain. I told him we needed to do an X-ray, but he didn't want to go that night. We went back to the hotel and iced it. The next morning, we went to a local doctor and saw that the elbow was broken. I thought his Tour was over. l told him that he had gotten the jersey and that's the way cycling sometimes can be. But he said he wanted to give it a try. We talked about the various types of taping that night and gave him a painkiller in the morning. The kind of fracture he had was not easy to displace, so I was not too worried about that. We decided to take things day-by-day."

Cadel Evans: That's Why It Hurts So Much
"(After the crash), I got back on my BMC and the peloton was really splitting apart. The first thing was to get back to the peloton and continue in the race as usual. I went to the doctor to see why my arm was hurting so much. When he first looked at it, the doctor said everything was OK. So John (Lelangue) asked me what I wanted to do and I told him to stick to the plan and try and take the yellow jersey. When I was diagnosed with a broken elbow the next day, I thought, 'Well, that stands to reason why it's hurting so much.' I took the yellow jersey when I had a broken arm. So in my mind everything indicated that I could still ride well with a broken arm. The last thing I was going to do was stop the Tour de France when I had the yellow jersey. I had to continue on and keep racing."