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Cadel Evans enjoyed a little more time in yellow and a lot of fan support. (Photo special to the BMC Racing Team.)
Cadel Evans enjoyed a little more time in yellow and a lot of fan support. (Photo special to the BMC Racing Team.)

'Cadelebration' Paints Australia Yellow

12. August 2011

Melbourne, Australia

The one kilometer BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans cycled down St Kilda Road in Melbourne Friday was possibly the easiest of his career. As Australia's first Tour de France champion quipped after an estimated 25,000 people lined the route and filled Federation Square for his victory parade: "I just had to turn up."

Beaming and clearly stunned by the outpouring of support that came to celebrate his historic victory, Evans then admitted: "It was very overwhelming. I am very honored. In the Tour d France, of course there are crowds, and (at the) world championships and Olympics and so on. Of course you go to events and you are involved in events. That's one thing, but I was the only one here today. In the Tour de France there are 200 bike riders. I can't quite describe it, but it's certainly an honor, much more than a privileged and I am very proud Australia is so into everything."

For many, the Evans parade made with 20 children from cycling clubs across Victoria turned memories back to 1968 when boxer Lionel Rose was driven through the streets of Melbourne in an open car to Melbourne Town Hall after he won his world bantamweight title in Japan. So seeing Evans ride in the prestigious yellow jersey he was presented with on the cobblestoned Champs Elysees in Paris on July 24 for winning the Tour, and on his BMC Racing Team issue bike that was painted yellow and black, was the first of such magnitude.

Either way, Friday was an occasion that will be remembered by all who came to watch, and most likely by those who saw it on live broadcasts through the major commercial free networks too. It was a celebration that embraced all – from business executives, tradesmen, university students, mothers and fathers with children who skipped school - apparently with little opposition - to event the destitute and homeless.

Evans flies back Sunday to the United States to prepare for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. He may not have sensed how many people he has impacted by becoming the first Australian to win the world's biggest – and most likely hardest – annual sporting event.

But in a visit that began with his arrival on Thursday and was aimed to allow Australians to share in his triumph, he was clearly getting a clear picture of it. He zig-zagged slowly up St Kilda Road where crowds were 10 deep on either side and high fiver as many fans as possible before turning onto Federation Square, where he was greeted by the Victorian Premier Ted Baileu who joined him on the podium.

As Evans stepped up and turned to acknowledge the huge crowd before him and that was making its way in his trail from St Kilda Road, his smile and noble wave lit up an almighty roar and applause. And in that single moment, the "Cadelebration," as Premier Baileu dubbed the occasion, united all.

‘‘This is great, fantastic, everyone’s missing out on school and work, right?’’ Evans asked the masses as they waved "Yell for Cadel" flags and held Cadel Evans masks or came wearing yellow or green and gold. "I’m very proud to be able to bring back this jersey and we can celebrate it together."

Several hours later, the Cadelebration continued at a civic reception attended by the Premier, other politicians, dignitaries and other invited guests.

By Rupert Guinness of the Sydney Morning Herald