Cadel Evans' Tour de France Victory and the Celebration in Australia


Cadel Evans

Put another feather in the global sporting cap for Australia. Cadel Evans, who grew up in the Australia's Northern Territories, won the Tour de France on Sunday. His victory in Paris came after three grueling weeks, and some 2,100 plus miles, of cycling.

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Fans in Australia greeted Evans' victory with cheers and beers. For Evans himself, it was a victory a long time coming. In seven years of competition, he's finished in eighth place, and in fourth place. He's come in second twice. But 2011, it turns out, is the year that Evans finally gets to savor the bubbly.

Evans is the first Australian ever to win the Tour de France. He did it with a gutsy performance in the time trial stage just before Sunday's push into Paris.

Evans's achievement had Australian announcers waxing patriotic.

"I didn't think I'd live to see it," said one.

Many Australians stayed up all night to celebrate his ride into Paris, including his dad, Paul Evans.

"Yeah, we had a few last night," Paul Evans said. "Everybody's a bit bleary eyed here down under. Lots of handshakes, everybody ringing up, the phone has never stopped. The mobile phone goes off. I've only got two ears and one brain, but I've got three lines going at once."

Stephen Hodge of Cycling Australia is just happy to finally have an Aussie on the Tour de France podium.

"There have been Australians in the Tour de France for over a hundred years," Hodge said. "Thirty years ago, Phil Anderson wore the first yellow jersey. We've won stages, but we've never won the Tour de France before."

Some Australians are likening Evans' victory to the nation's improbable win in the America's Cup yacht race in 1983. But for Cadel Evans himself it wasn't an upset, it was just a matter of time.

"It's been such a very focused process every day to get here, but not just day to day, but month by month, year by year. It's been a long, long process," Evans said, adding that it will probably take a long time to take it all in.

Cadel Evans isn't just the first Australian to win the Tour de France. At 34-1/2, he's also the second oldest winner of the race.

The oldest ever?

Belgian Firmin Lambot won at the age of 36 back in 1922.