x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

So far so good for Evans

The Australian cyclist Cadel Evans will be itching to test himself against his rivals in the first mountain-top finish.

The Australian cyclist Cadel Evans, seen here during the fourth stage of the Tour de France.
The Australian cyclist Cadel Evans, seen here during the fourth stage of the Tour de France.

CHATEAUROUX // Cadel Evans perhaps pointed out the obvious when declaring there was still a long way to go to Paris ahead of today's sixth stage from Aigurande. There's 2,500 kilometres left to race in this year's event, but the Australian Silence-Lotto rider will be itching to test himself against his rivals in the first mountain-top finish at Super-Besse.

There will certainly be tougher climbs at this year's Tour de France but the 1289-metre ascent to the ski resort ought to stretch out the field. Evans is unlikely to go for the stage win - he'll want to save his legs for the Alps and Pyrenees - but his focus will be on Alejandro Valverde in particular as he looks to stretch his advantage past the minute mark over the Spaniard. Evans described his Tour to date as "a good start but it's a long way to go to Paris". He said: "It's so far so good and the trip to Super-Besse is the second real test of the Tour. Any time I can gain on Valverde and the others will be a bonus."

With the leaders in the general classification so bunched up, attacks are likely to come thick and fast and Stefan Schumacher's Gerolsteiner team will have their work cut out if they are to successfully defend his yellow jersey. The two riders in the best position to attack are Kim Kirchen and David Millar but, with Kirchen an outside bet for a podium finish come Paris, like Evans he is unlikely to go all-out.

Millar, meanwhile, knows this is his perhaps his only chance to take the yellow jersey for the first time since his debut in the race back in 2000 when he led for the first three days. He is just 12 seconds off the lead. Never short of confidence, Millar, 31, said: "This is the best I have felt at a Tour since 2000. I have climbed really well in my training camp ahead of the Tour and I think I have got the legs to make a mark, but I am sure a lot of guys feel the same way."

Ahead of the race, Team Garmin boss Jonathan Vaughters targeted getting Millar into yellow at Super-Besse as one of his pre-Tour targets, so expect Millar's team-mates to lead the drive at the front of the peloton. TV: Dubai Sports channel from 2.30pm @Email:sports@thenational.ae