Stellar CADEL EVANS
Cyclist Q &A “I’d like to think I’ve helped influence a new wave of activity in middle-aged men”
What’s harder: winning the Tour de France or dodging a magpie attack when you’re riding in Australia? [Laughs] Winning the Tour de France is more stressful and harder. Dodging a magpie attack is more frustrating. I read that your nickname is Cuddles. Please explain…
That is something created by an English journalist, I think. I changed and corrected it on Wikipedia over and over again. I don’t know why a journalist would be so motivated to try to make that a fact, but I suppose if it’s written
on Wikipedia, it is fact, right? I do not have a nickname, let’s be clear on that. Got it. Apart from Cuddles, you’ve also been called one of our greatest sportsmen, one of the biggest talents cycling has ever seen and an Aussie legend. How would you describe yourself? Oh, I don’t know about those judgements, they’re for other people to make. I would like to think that I was someone who had a certain amount of talent and a certain amount of opportunity, and I made the most of that. I worked as hard as I could, and as cleverly as I could, to go as far as I could in my chosen endeavours. Last year’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race was your last professional race. How did you feel when you crossed the finish line? A little bit relieved, but satisfied with a profession and career I had given my best to. It had its losses, but it had its victories as well. I’m proud of the fact I was a versatile rider who could perform in different disciplines of the sport. What’s been the hardest part of retirement? Nothing! Everything is less stressful. There’s less pressure and more energy and time to do everything else every day, so things become more enjoyable. How does your son Robel feel about cycling?
My son is only six and he’s happy to go for little rides with me in the forest or have me by his side to give him advice on riding his bike, or anything for that matter. He literally
gets a push up the hill when he needs one with my hand on his back, but that’s it. I never pressured him into riding; he loves it of his own accord. Obviously he knows you like riding – does he have any idea that you’re a world champion cyclist? I don’t know if he quite understands that… He usually tells me I’m hopeless. Do you embrace or shy away from the MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) title? [Laughs] I suppose, technically, now that I don’t race, I probably am one. I’d like to think I’ve helped influence a new wave of activity in middle-aged men. I hope that’s going to help their long-term health and wellbeing. What do you say to drivers who think cyclists don’t belong on the road? I don’t think we should separate the two, because most people who ride a bike also have a car. In the end, they’re public roads for everyone. It’s a privilege
to use roads; not a right. We have to respect everyone who’s using them, whether they’re driving a car, bus, tractor or truck, or riding a bike or are a pedestrian. We have to respect each other’s privilege and safety. You split your time between Australia and Switzerland. Who has the freshest air? Good question – the air is different. I’d say Switzerland’s is just a little bit cleaner. They have a lot more hydro electricity and modern cars. But in Australia you can get out in the open space. You don’t have to travel far from the city to get to a place where you’re on your own. It’s something I realise every time I come back. I appreciate the isolation you can have in Australia. You finished in second place twice [2007, 2008] before you won the Tour de France in 2011. Do you believe in luck? In a race that’s three weeks long, some things go your way, some things don’t. You have to be able to overcome the things that don’t, or minimise them at least, and then have a bit of reserve to overcome what you can’t minimise. I was a bit unlucky in 2008, but things came around and went my way in 2011. The lessons that I learnt through the losses prepared me to make the most of the opportunities in 2011. You retired in 2015, but you still participate in the public ride at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Do some people ride just so they can say they beat Cadel Evans? Probably. I’d be [more] delighted if people came along to support the riders. My mother usually rides it, so it’s for everyone. We also have a kids’ race on Friday, after school. We try to cater for everyone, from two-year-olds with training wheels to the best elite male and female riders in the world. How have you changed as a person since hanging up your Lycra? I just have more time, energy, patience and tolerance. There’s a lot of pressure, stress and expectations in performing at the highest level of professional cycling. Without that, your patience and tolerance isn’t being consumed, so you have an abundance of it to apply to other aspects of life. Were you afraid of packing on the weight when you stopped competing? [Laughs] I haven’t yet. It’s nice to have a stronger upper body. But for the most part, I still ride a lot – I enjoy staying fit and healthy.