The 2017 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race kicks off tomorrow in earnest, with men’s and women’s elite races, as well as a more laidback People’s Ride planned for the weekend, against the backdrop of some of Australia’s most stunning roads. In the lead-up to the action, we caught up with the man himself – and the only Aussie to ever win the Tour de France – Cadel Evans. Sitting down with him at TAG Heuer’s flagship boutique in Melbourne (the brand is the official timekeeping partner for the race), we chatted, naturally, about all things time-related.
Time+Tide: What do you like about watches?
Cadel Evans: Well, I’m always travelling, so it can be a bit hard to treat yourself at times – you can’t take a nice car or a swimming pool around the world with you. A nice watch is a different story – you strap it on and it’s always there. Plus, I’ve lived in Switzerland for the past 20 years, so I’ve really had no choice but to become a watch lover. There’s two great vintage stores near me in Lugano with some incredible pieces – I was really tempted by a German military issue Autavia the other day.
T+T: Obviously timing is important when you’re training and racing – are you ever off the clock?
CE: It’s hard. In every single race I’ve competed in, time has been absolutely critical for me. This mentality has become my way of life – I’m a planner and I prefer to stick to a schedule.
T+T: Do you wear a mechanical watch on the bike?
CE: Not when I ride. After four or five hours the vibrations can really cause friction on your wrist. When I leave for a ride I take off my watch and put on a cycling watch – I step into my cycling mentality. It’s the same when I finish – I step out of the athlete mentality and get back to a more relaxed mindset.
T+T: Do you remember when you bought your first serious watch?
CE: Yes, it was after I’d won my first tour. At the time I was living in Neuchâtel, which is the location of Panerai’s manufacture. To me this was a great connection, so I bought a manual wind Luminor, which I’ve still got at home. If I put it on now my girlfriend knows I’m relaxing, because it doesn’t have minute markers, meaning I’m not so worried about the time.
T+T: What makes the perfect watch?
CE: I’m quite a practical person, so I like watches that are functional. Of course I love design, but for me, design follows practicality. Good visibility and readability are a must, along with a reasonable size and material. I was recently on a hike – it was -2 degrees and both my phone battery and torch battery had gone flat. It was dark and snowing. But there was one thing that worked – the mechanical watch on my wrist. I looked down and it was a nice reminder of what these things are really designed for.
T+T: Marc Biver, TAG Heuer’s Sports & Timing Director, just gifted you a Heuer-01 on a blue strap – does it meet your design criteria?
CE: For me, the rubber strap is great. I love yoga, the gym, and swimming in the ocean – it’s a strap I just don’t need to take off. Bracelets are resistant, but I’ve found sand doesn’t like them that much. So yes, it ticks all those practicality boxes. I also love the blue. I’m told it matches my eyes.