Milan – Australian Cadel Evans said he has not thrown in the towel ahead of his bid to overthrow Italian race leader Vincenzo Nibali and win this year's Giro d'Italia.
Evans, the 2011 Tour de France champion, is second overall at 1min 26sec sec behind Nibali heading into the final week of the race which features key mountain stages including an uphill time trial.
Given he was only slated to compete several weeks before the May 4 start in Naples, Evans has impressed during a tough first two weeks of racing, in which pre-race favourite Bradley Wiggins and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal withdrew due to illness.
Although he admits Nibali's Astana team will be hard to beat, the Australian Ä who has a dozen or so Grand Tour campaigns under his belt Ä said his victory ambitions remain intact.
“To be here second overall on GC (general classification) is not so bad,” Evans said during the race's final rest day Monday.
“Me being somewhat the ambitious rider that I am, I say it's not impossible to win. So I'll be a bit greedy there and keep asking more of myself.”
After a mediocre 12th place in the stage two team time trial left Evans in 62nd overall, and in spite of losing 33secs to Nibali on Saturday, he has stayed at the front of the pack to find himself still well in contention.
Evans added: “I see a very good Astana (team) and a really good Nibali who has been able to cover everything that's been thrown at him so far.
“This Giro, compared to the dozen or so other grand tours I have done, really has been a test of teams, of concentration, of bike handling abilities and of physical abilities.
“Being on the flats, being in the crosswind, being in the heat, being in the cold, the team time trial - everything has been such a test on everyone and everything involved in the race.
“It's been interesting to say the least. But here we are with a week to go and there are a few more opportunities. We'll see where we go from here.”
The race resumes Tuesday on the 238 km-long stage 16 from Valloire to Ivrea. – Sapa-AFP