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Cadel Evans cycling collection

At a glance

  • World mountain and road bike champion
  • Tour de France winner
  • Australian professional cyclists in Europe
  • Cycling in Australia travelling exhibition

A cycling champion on and off the road

Two bicycles owned by champion Australian cyclist Cadel Evans are recent additions to the National Museum of Australia's collection. A Ridley 'Helium' road cycle and a Cannondale CAAD 4 hardtail mountain bike ridden by the champion cyclist help to tell a story of achievement on cycling's world stage.

A group of cyclists on a road take a lefthand turn.Two spectators stand at the far side of the road, and mountains form a backdrop in the distance.
Riding a Ridley Helium road bike, and wearing the yellow jersey, Cadel Evans descends amid the peloton during Stage 12 of the 2008 Tour de France from Lavelanet to Narbonne. Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images.

First Australian to win the Tour de France

Cadel Evans rode this Ridley 'Helium' road bike during the 2008 Tour de France, the legendary three-week stage race held every July. Riding for the Silence-Lotto team, he held the most coveted prize in professional cycling, the leader's yellow jersey, for five stages. During stage 17 of the 2008 race, Spanish climber Carlos Sastre of Team CSC completed a spectacular ascent of the Alpe d’Huez, taking the overall lead.

Cadel Evans' signature on the top tube of the Ridley bike frame. Photo: George Serras.

By the penultimate stage time trial, Evans needed to ride 1-minute and 34 seconds faster than Sastre. He beat Sastre’s time and jumped to second place overall, but he remained 58 seconds behind at the end of the tour. This was the second year in a row that Evans had come second in the tour.

Then, in 2011, Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France. At the age of 34, he was among the oldest winners in the race's history. His tour win crowned an impressive list of successes since he had turned professional 10 years early, which included winning the 2009 World Road Championships in Switzerland.

Side view of a Ridley 'Helium' racing bike, with black, red and whilte livery.
Ridley Helium road bicycle belonging to Cadel Evans and ridden in the 2008 Tour de France. National Museum of Australia. Photo: George Serras.

A long tradition

Cadel Evans' success in France was part of a long tradition of Australian cyclists riding in Europe for professional teams. Victorian cyclists Iddo 'Snowy' Munro and Duncan 'Don' Kirkham rode the 1914 Tour de France, becoming the first Australian and, in fact, the first native English speakers to participate.

Over the next century, 45 Australians competed in the tour, including some of Australia's mightiest cycling talents, from Sir Hubert Opperman in 1928 and 1931, to Russell Mockridge in 1955 and Don Allan in 1974 and 1975. In 1981, Phil Anderson became the first Australian to lead the Tour de France.

The other yellow jersey wearers from Australia are Stuart O’Grady (1998 and 2001), Bradley McGee (2003), Robbie McEwen (2004) and Simon Gerrans (2013).

Biography

Front left view of a mountain bike with yellow-rimmed tyres. The bike has a pale blue seat and the frame is primarily painted red and dark blue, and the seat is pale blue. The bike frame has several stickers including 'Cannondale' and 'Volvo' on the main frame and 'Fatty' on the front forks.
Cannondale CAAD 4 hardtail mountain bike ridden by Cadel Evans during the 1998 and 1999 world cup events. The frame was custom painted to reflect Cadel’s overall win (blue) and his victory in the under-23 age category (red). National Museum of Australia. Photo: George Serras.

Evans was born at Katherine in the Northern Territory on 14 February 1977, and spent his early years at the Barunga settlement, before moving first to Armidale in New South Wales, and later to Melbourne.

His cycling career started in 1995 as a scholarship holder in the Australian Institute of Sport’s mountain bike program. Evans converted to road cycling in 2001.

Today, Evans lives in Stabio, Switzerland and Barwon Heads in Victoria with his Italian wife, Chiara Passerini, and their adopted son, Robel.

Evans was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service to cycling and the community in June 2013.

Days in the dirt

Cadel Evans was a champion mountain bike rider long before he joined the professional European road racing fraternity.

Physiological tests while at the Australian Institute of Sport revealed that Evans possessed the rare combination of an unusually high lung volume and the capacity to absorb more oxygen from each breath than 99.9 per cent of the population.

Affectionately known as 'The Lung', Evans became a dominant force in cross-country mountain biking, winning the 1998 and 1999 world cups.

Close to the feeling of flying

Off road cycling remains close to Cadel’s heart. In his 2009 autobiography, Cadel Evans: Close to Flying, he wrote about the joy and visceral pleasure that riding mountain bikes has brought him over the years.

When you have a good day mountain biking … it is close to the feeling of flying. With an uninterrupted path of single-track it can seem like you’re floating through a forest. The rush of constant sound, like the wind past your ears, is amplified by the noise generated by wide tyres on the terrain; it drums out of beat at times to the thud of tree roots, rocks and all else that litters the way. And then comes the contributions from the body. The pulse of breath and heart – both rising from surges of adrenaline and effort – add to a soundtrack on this simple machine and you’re in nature’s playground. You float … drift … sweep. Through turns you delve deeper into the path ahead, diving around the next turn and into the unknown.

Cycling in Australia exhibition

Detailed image of a crankset on a bike, with part of the rear wheel and a small section of the front tyre visible.
Crankset detail from the Ridley 'Helium' road bike owned by Cadel Evans. Photo: George Serras.

These two bikes from the Cadel Evans collection will be on show as part of a National Museum of Australia travelling exhibition about cycling in Australia, due to open in August 2014.

The cycling exhibition will explore the role the bicycle has played in Australian life, from the settling of rural communities to its role in the emancipation of women in the late 19th century.

The exhibition will also explore early medical concerns about cycling and how these gave way to a general association between cycling and healthy living.

Acknowledgements

The National Museum of Australia wishes to thank Jason Bakker (Director of Signature Sport and Cadel Evans' manager), Josh Boyd (Echelon Sports), Warren Meade (Bicycle Passion), Trevor Nix (The Cyclery) and Robbie McEwen (Robbie McEwen Cycling) for their assistance in acquiring these two bicycles.

More

Collection search records for other bicycles in the National Museum collection

Ernie Old's Malvern Star bicycle

'The Human Motor: Sir Hubert Opperman and endurance cycling in Australia' audio

Official Cadel Evans website

'Cadel Evans: a long ride to the top step' feature on the 666 ABC website

Cadel Evans' 'Enough Rope' interview with Andrew Denton on the ABC website