Evans’s path to his first-ever win was slow and steady. In the Tour’s first week, he won Stage 4 in uphill sprint finish. But it was one of the few bold moves he would make the rest of this 2,131-mile race, which started July 2 along France’s mid-Atlantic coast.
Mr. Contador, the three-time Tour winner, sought another title this year, but struggled to contend after a crash on the race’s opening day left him nearly a minute and half behind fellow contenders. He finished in fifth place, nearly 4 minutes behind Evans.
“The way [Evans] rode clearly wasn’t spectacular but he has always been there,” said Contador. “He deserves [this Tour win.]”
Evans's cautious tactics almost backfired, though. He initially neglected to follow Andy Schleck’s breakaway up the Col du Galibier on Thursday’s Stage 18, before scrambling to catch up and stay in the race.
The next day’s stage, which took riders up the iconic Alpe d’Huez climb, Evans suffered a mechanical problem, but recovered to finish the day 57 seconds behind Schleck, who moved into the yellow jersey.
Schleck lasted just one day in the lead. During Saturday’s 26-mile individual time trial around Grenoble, Evans – considered a stronger rider than Schleck in the discipline – more than erased his time deficit.