But le Tour is at heart a sporting challenge. Surely no event asks more of its competitors. It is long, hazardous, exposing, physically and mentally draining, replete with skullduggery, breaking men and making them, building chapter by chapter into each year’s new epic. Temperamentally, it suits Cadel. He is a singular combination of diesel engine and violin, able to chug away at metronomic rpms for hours at a time, but also delicately strung, obsessive about health, hygiene and appearance, a reclusive, sensitive soul who is married to an Italian pianist and cares about his little dog and Tibet, but on the road is steely and indestructible.
Winning needs no explanation, losing has no alibi.
Which leaves only to declare that if Cadel Evans’ victory in the 2011 Tour de France is not the single most heroic Australian sporting accomplishment of all, it is a least the equal of any preceding it.
Sport is very much about the immediacy of the moment. In the immediacy of this one, (Cadel) Evans’ victory – the first by an Australian in le Tours 108-year history – felt like the greatest achievement by an Australian sportsman.