The moment I finished reading the final word from the recently released Cadel Evans autobiography, I scanned through the publisher details and then the ‘Authors Note’ to try and identify the ghostwriter. The biggest surprise was learning that Evans was the original author… there was no ghostwriter. Not only can I admire Cadel Evans as Australia’s Greatest Cyclist, his power with his penmanship captivated me through his life-story.
The release of the autobiography is timely, Cadel Evans retired as a professional road cyclist in 2015, coinciding with the launch of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Now in its third year, the Great Ocean Road Race follows the Tour Down Under and is set to become a lasting milestone in the racing calendar for the pros and for the everyday cyclist who can ride in the open event.
Since becoming the first Australian to win the Tour de France, the ultimate prize in cycling, Cadel Evans is a household name. But he was never a showman like Peter Sagan, Lance Armstrong or Eddie Merckx and his autobiography promises an insight into the personality and motivation of Evans who has often appeared closed and somewhat uncomfortable in the public eye.
Evans takes a methodical approach to delivering his story. His meticulous approach to training, nutrition, his equipment and performance translates into a chronological delivery which he ties together by beginning and ending the book with the experience of his last professional race in his own Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. While he dares to share the emotions and impulses, too often the details from his earlier racing days are delivered as factual accounts and are missing stories and insights which would bring the racing and the personality of Evans closer to the reader. As the autobiography moves towards his fight for the Tour de France victory, more substance is delivered and race tactics, problems, emotions and back-stories are revealed.
As a personality, Cadel Evans presents himself in the book as a thoughtful and honest man who has been swept between the emotions, turmoil and demands of the cycling world with expectations from competitors, teammates, teams, sponsors and the media. The travel-itinerary alone is unbelievable; driving across Europe from race to race and flying back and forth across the globe.
There is no gossip but at times Evans is blunt about the riders and other individuals who have let him down or were downright rotten. But reader will appreciate it when Evans recounts his time with Team Telekom and T-Mobile (2003 / 2004) and concludes with unmistakable criticism of the administration, mechanics and some of the team riders for their gross incompetence.
The 2009 Men’s Road Cycling World Cup win in Mendrisio, Switzerland marks the final months of Cadel Evans with Davitamon-Lotto (2005 – 2009) in a team environment that was toxic and unfulfilling. The unrealistic team expectations couldn’t be met and Evans describes how he felt he was targeted by the team for each missed win. Another blow followed as seven riders from the cycling Australian team voted against him and instead nominated Simon Gerrans to be the team leader in the 2009 World Cup race.
His subsequent victory in the Men’s Elite Road Race was an important confirmation of his abilities and allowed him to transition as a World Champion into Team BMC who would then support him in achieving the Tour de France victory in 2011.
Beyond racing, Cadel’s autobiography reveals a life that revolves around racing. Even the book title, “The Art of Cycling” allows Evans to refrain from delving too deeply into his family and private life.
Tallying just over 400 pages (along with colour photos), the writing style is easy to follow even if it becomes dry as it dives into the details. The book becomes more relatable if are familiar with the pro-riders and cycling personalities such as coaches and managers.
As a cycling fan, the inside stories and behind-the-scenes look at racing, tactics and a pro-cyclists life is captivating. If you remember following Cadel Evans in the cycling media and watched him on SBS compete in the Tour de France, the racing memories will return and become richer.
Published by HarperCollins, Cadel Evans – The Art of Cycling is available in ABC books store and all major book stores as well as in ebook format. ISBN 9780733334627