Boss backs Evans on Tour climbs

Given other title contenders are also likely to be outnumbered, Evans may well try to strike informal deals with them to help redress the balance.

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“Strange partnerships become part of the outcome of the sport on certain days,” said Evans’ BMC team manager Jim Ochowicz.

“Cadel certainly can do it alone, he can do it with other riders and if we’re lucky enough to have another rider from our team with him, it’s even a better advantage for him.”

Now that the Tour is heading through the hills, the Sky team of title favourite Brad Wiggins can start employing one of their most significant weapons.

In Australians Michael Rogers and Richie Porte and British rider Chris Froome, they have a formidable trio of climbers who can support Wiggins.

They used that advantage to perfection in last month’s Criterium Dauphine, a key lead-up event.

But Ochowicz is not overly worried.

“I would agree with the statement that we don’t have the climbers that Sky have,” he said.

“But we can do a lot of work for Cadel up until the final part of the race.

“At that point, it’s not really 30 riders, it’s seven or eight who are fighting it out.

“He has his own allies in that group, because he won’t be the only rider alone.”

“They become sometimes allies together because they have the same goals too – they want to get as far up the mountain as they can in the lead.”

Evans showed during last year’s decisive mountain stages that he could prevail when outnumbered.

Brothers Andy and Frank Schleck tried to break him, but his nerve held.

BMC also beefed up their climbing stocks by recruiting American Tejay van Garderen.

The Tour heads into Switzerland for Sunday’s 157.7km fifth stage from Belfort to Porrentruy.

While the stage does not feature the biggest climbs in this year’s Tour, there are seven hills along the race route.

It is potentially a day for an escape and heavy hitters such as Evans and Wiggins will need to be on their guard.

The most significant climb will the category-one Col de la Croix, a 3.7km ascent which starts 138km into the stage.

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