Cadel Evans in hunt for ultimate treble26 July 2011
Cadel Evans is well on course to become only the third cyclist to add an Olympic gold medal to a Tour de France win and world road title.
Still reeling from watching Evans become the first Australian to win the Tour de France, Cycling Australia high performance manager Kevin Tabotta believes the Victorian can join Germany's Jan Ullrich and great Spaniard Miguel Indurain in achieving the ultimate road cycling treble.
"I can completely imagine Cadel adding Olympic gold to his achievements, I think he's more than capable of that," Tabotta told AAP on Tuesday.
"I don't think this year has been a surprise at all, I mean he's come second in the Tour de France twice and lost one by only 20 seconds."
Evans' blistering individual time trial on stage 20 of the Tour on Saturday to secure the yellow jersey and overall win bolster his already strong selection claims amid a large field of quality Australians for next year's London Olympics.
Evans contested the 245km men's road race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, finishing 15th behind this year's Tour de France King of the Mountains Samuel Sanchez. He placed fifth in the time trial four days later.
Every country is allowed five riders for the Olympic road race with two of those selected to also contest the road time trial event.
Australia looks certain to qualify a team of five road riders for London and Tabotta can see Evans among them even though the course is less hilly than would be ideal for him.
"Absolutely Cadel could be part of that team," he said.
"He's proven on a number of different courses over the years he's a competitor.
"He may not be a sprinter, but even then if it comes to a pretty tight finish Cadel has proven that he can sprint against guys on tough courses.
"Cadel Evans is well and truly in the equation for the Olympic Games."
With the likes of Richie Porte, who finished an impressive fifth in the Tour de France time trial, three-time road world champion Michael Rogers, and veteran Stuart O'Grady among a host of strong contenders, the selectors face a tough job.
"It's going to be one of the most difficult teams we'll ever have to pick, but we'd rather be in this position where we're having to figure out who to leave out rather than who to include," said Tabotta.
"The London road course we think will suit a one-day specialist like a Matt Goss or Allan Davis or Heinrich Haussler or Mathew Hayman, among many others.
"I would think there would be 10 to 12 guys right now who are a real chance to make the Olympic Games."
London's Olympic road race is scheduled for July 28 with the time trial on August 1 and with Evans set to defend his Tour de France title, timing could pose a problem.
While he did contest both the Tour and Olympics in 2008, the break between the events was 13 days as opposed to what is likely to be a week or less in 2012.
"The only thing is that Cadel will have to have a real think about what his priorities are," Tabotta said.
"He'll be riding in the Tour de France next year, but that doesn't mean he can't do both.
"It will be a question of after the Tour, how can Cadel best recover and return for a result in the Olympic road race and potentially in the Olympic time trial.
"But these are questions Cadel will have to answer himself."