Cadel Evans has one more milestone left in his unparalleled cycling career.
And the only Australian to win the Tour de France admits he is unsure how he will cope.
“For 20 years I’ve been racing internationally – that’s quite a lot of experience – but I’ve never done a last race,” he said.
“That’s going to be a little bit emotional for me and I really don’t know what to expect.”
The 2009 world road champion and 2011 Tour de France winner will retire after Sunday’s inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Rd race, which starts and finishes in Geelong.
The 174km event features an undulating course and likely strong winds, meaning Evans’ last race will be tough.
It has attracted a solid field, highlighted by fellow Australians Richie Porte (Sky), Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) and newly-crowned national road champion Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling).
Beyond the competition, Evans is determined that the race he helped create will develop and become a long-term event.
“I’ve always hoped to give back to the sport in one way or another – I never dreamed it would be in such a fantastic way,” Evans said.
“This is an event that I hopes goes for many, many years.
“I will certainly be putting everything that I can behind the event, of course, to support it and grow it to be bigger and better.
“This weekend is a starting point and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
The event also features a women’s race, which South Australian Rachel Neylan won on Saturday.
Evans proud of his consistency over two decades
Upon the announcement of his retirement in September, Evans said he expected to leave the sport without any regrets despite “a lot of second places”.
“I gave it everything. It’s 20 years this year that I’ve been a full-time cyclist so I’ve had a good go,” he said.
“I don’t leave with any bitterness or disappointment.”
Evans said he was incredibly proud of his consistency over the years. Many believe that is proof he raced clean.
Asked if his Tour win was a bright light after years of doping darkness, he replied: “I hope so. I can only speak about my own credibility.
“I’m proud of the fact that I could perform consistently over the years, from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, give or take a few periods of injury and illness.
“There were other riders who won a lot more than I did, there are other riders who performed impressively on important race days, but I’m proud of the fact that I go away from the sport performing consistently.”