CADEL Evans will help lead cycling through its darkest hour, but will address the sport's doping crisis on his own terms and in his own time, his Australian manager says.
Jason Bakker said yesterday that he had been in regular contact with the untainted 2011 Tour de France winner, who will return to Australia from Europe in coming weeks in professional road cycling's off-season.
''Putting our obvious relationship aside, I have never met a more principled person. I've never met a person who holds his values so dearly to him,'' Mr Bakker said.
''And for that very reason I think Cadel has an enormous role to play in cycling, but I think he's been playing that role for some time.''
The comments came as Lance Armstrong received a standing ovation at a fund-raising dinner in Austin, Texas, marking the 15th anniversary of his Livestrong Foundation.
In his first speech since the US Anti-Doping Agency sanctioned him, Armstrong did not address doping allegations - a matter that cycling's international governing body, the International Cycling Union, will respond to in Switzerland tomorrow.
But he implored the audience, which included American politicians, actors Sean Penn, Ben Stiller and Matthew McConaughey, and singer Norah Jones, to continue to support his charity.
Armstrong quoted Martin Luther King, in an indirect reference to his predicament, saying, ''We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.''
He thanked the audience, saying, ''The mission absolutely must go on … we will not be deterred. We will move forward. And we will continue to serve the 28 million people around the world that need us the most.''
Australian cyclist and Tour de France stage winner Simon Gerrans is also coming home and will declare himself clean.
Gerrans' Australia manager, David Culbert, said he asked the lead rider for the Orica-GreenEDGE team, which has been shattered by the doping admissions of its former chief sports director, Matt White, squarely about doping in a phone call last week.
''I asked him the question, 'Are there any skeletons in your closet?' His answer was, 'I don't have anything to hide. I've got nothing to worry about, and neither do you.'''