at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
LA TOUSSUIRE, France - Cadel Evans' chances of retaining his Tour de France title were in tatters on Thursday but his BMC team manager refused to concede defeat and promised the Australian would seize any opportunity to make up lost time.
Evans lost 1:26 to race leader Bradley Wiggins and dropped from second to fourth overall. He lies 3:19 behind the Briton after what was seen as the most demanding mountain stage of this year's race.
The Australian's bold attack in the Col de la Croix de Fer was shortlived and Evans could not sustain the pace in a hectic finale.
“We are there, with a team, we are ready to fight and we will take any opportunity, it's still early in the race and we'll see day by day like we've done,” John Lelangue told reporters.
“It's getting more and more complicated, more than three minutes it's complicated, also knowing there is a time trial at the end and there is not so much big mountains finishes remaining.”
Evans now has three stages in the Pyrenees to make up lost time, with only one of those finishing at top of a mountain, before a final time trial that is expected to favour Wiggins.
“We will keep fighting whatever and we will see it's always possible we don't say today that it's finished and we'll keep fighting for this until Paris,” Lelangue added.
“We will try to keep going in the next ten days, it's not finished, there's still a lot of stages.
Friday's 12th stage, however, will not provide Evans with an opportunity to attack as the most demanding climb features more than 130 kilometres from the finish.
Asked what Evans's state of mind was after Thursday's stage, Lelangue said: “He is disappointed but I don't think he is devastated. He is a fighter and he will fight until the end.” – Reuters