Up close with cycling champion Cadel Evans
The former racing cyclist tells us that even though he's had the chance to ride around the world, there's no place like home.
- January 2019
We catch up with the world champion to find out what keeps him busy after life as a pro cyclist (hint: the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is one of them), and get him to share insider secrets of his home in the Bellarine Peninsula.
What do you do now that you’ve retired from professional cycling?
At the moment I’m busy making sure everything is humming along for my Great Ocean Road Race, but every day is different – family, health and exercise take priority.
Where is your favourite cycling route?
Of course, I’m a bit biased but I do love riding along the Great Ocean Road. I have a house in Barwon Heads [22 kilometres south-east of Geelong] and I like to ride to Lorne [a 67-kilometre ride south-west of Barwon Heads] and back just because it is so spectacular. It’s one of my favourite rides in the world. You don’t realise how good this country is until you live overseas – the smell of the eucalypts, the clear skies, the people are friendly and when the sun is shining, it is just beautiful. I really know what I miss when I come back home.
Speaking of being on the road, what are three things that you never travel without?
I always travel with some eucalyptus oil because it’s useful as a disinfectant and a stain remover, plus a tub of Vegemite, just in case any other Australian asks if I have any to share. The third essential is something from my son. I have a key ring he made for me at school.
Describe your ideal day in Barwon Heads?
I would wake up reasonably early for a run along the beach, then go and have a great breakfast with my partner and a ride along the Great Ocean Road alone or with friends. In the evening, a barbecue with friends and family is my favourite end to the day.
You travelled the world as a professional cyclist for 20 years. Is there one moment that stands out as your most challenging as an elite athlete?
Probably the most difficult time was in 2003 when I was strapped up to a hospital bed in Badenweiler, Germany, after crashing into a traffic island during a race going 60 kilometres per hour and I was pretty much on my own. Not having a support network over there made the situation extra hard.
What were your injuries?
My shoulder was broken and I waited to get a plate put on my clavicle [collar bone]. But mostly, it was the year I was supposed to be debuting in the Tour De France. The injury was the end of that.
Where are the best cycling routes for novices?
The back roads between Barwon Heads and Torquay are great for a more sedate ride, where you can enjoy good coffee and some fabulous food along the way.
And where are the best places along the Bellarine Peninsula for views?
If I have cyclists or visitors from overseas, I take them up to Teddy’s Lookout to see the really nice view of the road and the coastline above Lorne. Point Addis too, because of the views over the sandy cliffs towards Torquay, Anglesea and Bells Beach.
Tell us about some of your favourite cafés and wineries in the area?
I like Otway Estate opens in new window brewery. They serve a few nice brews that are hard to find elsewhere and as the Otways are a mountain biking mecca, any reason to stop by is a good reason. Wineries? Well, I like By Farr opens in new window in Bannockburn – they have some of the best reds and pinot noirs in our area. And Jack Rabbit opens in new window is great for lunch because it has a beautiful view over Port Phillip Bay. Another special place would have to be Bellbrae Harvest opens in new window – it’s like an old farmhouse that has been turned into a restaurant.
Which are the best spots to cheer on the cyclists during the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
If you have young kids, then we have a set-up along the water at Geelong with big screens, food and fun activities in Steampacket Gardens. For keen cycling fans and local residents, Challambra Crescent in Highton [Geelong], which is a short but steep climb, is often where the race is won and lost. Hitchcock Avenue in Barwon Heads and The Esplanade in Torquay are great coastal spots to cheer the peloton on.
What’s a fond memory you have of life in the Bellarine Peninsula?
My best memories have been connected to this race, actually. When you are an ex-rider and you see all the kids roll up at the start of a race and they start singing the national anthem – that has been a goosebumps moment for me each year. It is also on these roads where I have prepared for the biggest wins of my career, including the 2009 Men’s World Championships in Switzerland and the 2011 Tour de France.