July 13, 2012
Rear view ... Frank Schleck, Cadel Evans, overall leader Bradley Wiggins and Christopher Froome tackle the eleventh stage. Photo: AFP
Cadel Evans' silence made the loudest statement as his BMC team assessed the fallout from stage 11 of the Tour de France.
Evans went straight to the team hotel without speaking to the media after finishing 11th on an epic stage through the Alps.
He dropped from second to fourth overall as his deficit to race leader Brad Wiggins grew from one minute and 53 seconds to 3:19.
Team-mate Tejay Van Garderen talked up Evans' ability to bounce back and BMC director John Lelangue promised to keep fighting.
But Evans, who usually makes some sort of comment, was stony-faced as he rode directly from the finish to the nearby team hotel at La Toussuire.
BMC set up Evans for an attack on the Col du Glandon midway through the brutal 148km stage, first sending Amael Moinard up the road in a breakaway group.
Shortly after van Garderen made his own move on the Glandon, Evans attacked the group containing Wiggins and his posse of Sky mountain domestiques.
But the move only last about 5km.
It also looked concerning that as Evans and van Garderen tried to build their lead, the American was apparently going too hard for his team leader and had to drop back.
Evans then paid for the strong pace that Sky set on the final climb to La Toussuire, losing touch with Wiggins 6.5km from the finish.
"We will keep fighting until the last moment," Lelangue said.
"It is getting more and more complicated.
"More than three minutes is complicated, now you have the time trial at the end."
Whereas Evans knew had an advantage in the time trial over Andy Schleck on the second-last stage a year ago, now Wiggins is the man to beat in that discipline.
But van Garderen was upbeat, saying Sky had also shown signs of weakness.
"Its the first time that Wiggins was isolated and if we can do that again on the next mountain stage and Cadel's legs come back to him, then anything is still possible," he said.
"Cadel is mentally strong so he won't let today bother him."