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There are many things to say about 'Close To Flying', for it was a project that I lived for a formal period of close to two years - once the contract with publishers Hardie Grant was signed at the end of 2007 - and extra time on top of that as the subject was one of regular items that I've written and published over the years. I've followed Cadel Evans' career since 1994. He raced, I wrote. He still races and I still write about cycling. I own a magazine (RIDE Cycling Review) a quarterly title that has been on sale since July 1998. The first issue was released on the day that Willy Voet was arrested, prompting a subsequent scandal that became dubbed The Festina Affair. Since then, not one issue has been produced without reference to some doping scandal or another. Some have titles, others are just individuals who have contributed to the news items. There are many reasons to view cycling with cynicism but in the modern era there is a growing legion of riders who believe in the notion of clean competition. For all his curiosities, Cadel is one of the good guys of cycling. This book was done under the working title of "Cadel: Honestly". During the writing process, it became "Close To Flying" at Hardie Grant's suggestion. Eventually, I came to concur. And the new title began to grow on me. But at the heart of the story is one of honesty and I hope this is reflected in the text. Cadel is not about to retire. He is not the subject of any innuendo about his success. He is at the peak of his career and yet the time was right to tell some of the story of how he came to be where he is today. It's a complicated ride that includes stories of his upbringing in a remote region of Australia - with all the oddities that come with it. Alas, not all the text for this chapter could be squeezed into the final edit for it was easy to be distracted by a place that was a mix of nirvana and third-world conditions. But the journey Helen Cocks took me on while describing the place where she raised her son is a fabulous one that I can still hear in my mind now that it has been published. I hope the sentiment of what has been explained is carried in "Close To Flying". Cadel has become a friend and it's because of a shared passion: cycling is what brought us together and although we know more of the competitive world that was just on the horizon when we first met, it remains something that gives us a bond. I know a lot of cyclists and enjoy the friendships I have formed through the sport over the years. There have been candid moments with many of the riders who have shared with me intimate stories of their lives over the years. Cadel is one of them, and I'm grateful that he's made me part of his life. It's an interesting one, and that's one reason why writing this book was both a challenge and a pleasure. It's not an autobiography, it's a biography and that was agreed upon early in the process, by Cadel, myself and Hardie Grant. It is a story of his life that goes up to a point. It is purely coincidental that the world championship win is included; more a fault of press timing than planning but I'm pleased it worked out as it has. It offers a conclusion to a book that was as fun as it was difficult to write (and then edit). If you do read it, I hope you enjoy the ride. "Float. Drift. Sweep." Enjoy. Rob Arnold
Cadel Evans (born Katherine, Northern Territory 14 February 1977) is an Australian professional racing cyclist on the Silence-Lotto team. In 2007, Evans became first Australian to win the UCI ProTour. He has the highest Tour de France finishes for an Australian, coming second in 2007 and 2008. Before turning to road cycling in 2001, Evans was a champion mountain biker, first riding for the Diamondback MTB team, then for the Volvo-Cannondale MTB team, winning the World Cup in 1998 and 1999 and placing seventh in the men's cross-country mountain bike race at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. He is married to Chiara Evans, an Italian pianist.