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There were smiles all around the Tour de France champion. (Samantha Lane photo.)
There were smiles all around the Tour de France champion. (Samantha Lane photo.)

Whirlwind Celebration Ahead For Cadel Evans

11. August 2011

Melbourne, Australia

Cadel Evans has raced the Santos Tour Down Under before, but Thursday he began his very first tour down under as the Tour de France champion.

The 34-year-old Victorian whose Tour winning feat has been lauded as one of the greatest sporting achievements by an Australian, admitted in an interview with sister papers, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, that it was bewildering to "land here in Austalia today and see my picture on the front page of the paper."

While he did not get as far as his hometown of Barwon Heads, he had to settle for Melbourne - the capital of his home state, Victoria. But he was nonetheless given a fantastic home reception by a huge throng of politcal and business dignatries and media at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport when he arrived.

As soon as he stepped out from the rear door of the Qantas flight and onto Australian land, Evans said he was looking forward to a hug from his mum after returning to Australia for a whirlwind celebration of his historic Tour de France triumph.

Evans and wife, Chiara Passerini, landed in Melbourne about 6 a.m., and when the champion cyclist emerged - slightly bleary-eyed after flying from Europe - he said it was "an honor and a pleasure" to be back.

"It's always nice to come home and get a hug from your mum," Evans said, adding that he planned to get together and "sit with some of my close family ... for a while. "It was a long trip, but l'm just happy to be here and happy that everyone is so appreciative to have me home, and I've been enjoying a good July and a great Tour de France but I'm glad to be able to come home and celebrate it with everyone that's supported me for all this time."

The airport reception was befitting of the modest sporting hero. Dressed in jeans, a black lululemon jumper bearing the logo of his BMC Racing Team and Nike sneakers, Evans was greeted by Federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and Qantas executive Ken Ryan, but there was no red carpet or excessive fanfare.

"When you're riding the Tour de France you're pretty concentrated on each day and each race and so sometimes your forget there's 20 million people at home cheering you on, there's just so much going on in the moment," Evans said in a three-minute interview with a media pack of 40.

"I'm just happy that everyone enjoyed following it and seeing it, and to come out on top finally on the Champs-Elysees was a culmination of many, many years of work from a lot of people."

Before being whisked off in a car with Chiara and manager Jason Bakker, Evans said he was looking forward to "a small ride tomorrow."

To celebrate his triumph over more than 3,000 kilometers through France, Evans will cycle fewer than 1,000 meters from Victoria's National Gallery to Federation Square in a parade that is expected to be attended by thousands of fans. However, before he could think more about that, Evans had a full day of media commitments to attend to. Despite the massive amounts of requests for interviews, he managed to give time to a number of major daily newspapers, television networks and wire agencies.

In a wide ranging interview with Sydney Morning Herald reporter Rupert Guinness and Greg Baum from The Age (of which a video will be on line at or, Evans spoke of how his teammates - riders and staff on the BMC Racing Team - had played such a huge role in his Tour success.

"We just worked so well together as a team. It was a feeloung iof calm and confidence in our team ... from everyone. Everyone put everything on the line every day. That feeling, that is what stood out above all," he said.

With up to three hours of interviews to get through and the mounting fatigue of jet lag, Evans was pencilled in for an appearance on the popular Australian Rules Football show, the "Footy Show," pending how he felt on the night. However, as the hours passed and television news bulletins across Australia ran stories of his arrival, Evans was becoming increasingly aware of what an impact that his Tour win has had throughout Australia.

The best is yet to come Friday, with his victory parade, which will be followed with an all-in press conference and then a civic reception in Melbourne that night.

By Rupert Guinness of the Sydney Morning Herald and Sam Lane of The Age