This blog post was first published on July 25 2011, and revised and updated on July 23 2015.
On July 25 2011, Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in the race’s 108-year history, only the second non-European to officially win it, and at 34, the oldest winner since World War II.
This gruelling 3 600 km (2 200 miles) cycle race lasts for three weeks, and finishes in Paris, with the climax of the final stage along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Traditionally the overall winner wears a ceremonial yellow jersey.
This was a great moment in our sporting history, and in Cadel’s home state of Victoria, everyone was urged to wear yellow to work as a show of support. When Cadel returned to Australia in August, there was a huge homecoming parade for him in Melbourne’s Federation Square, with tens of thousands of people dressed in yellow or waving yellow flags. He was also honoured with a state reception.
Cadel was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2013, and has also been featured on the blog as a celebrity dad. In February 2015, he took part in the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and finished fifth, announcing his retirement as soon as the race finished. He is currently Global Ambassador for the BMC Racing Team.
As you can probably tell from Cadel’s surname, he is of Welsh ancestry – his great-grandfather was from Wales. Cadel is a variant of the Welsh name Cadell, which is based on cad, the Welsh word for “battle”; there are several related names, such as Cadwalader, meaning “battle leader”. There is a recent fancy that the name is a Welsh form of the Roman name Catallus, although there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support it.
There were several medieval Welsh kings and princes called Cadell. Cadell Ddyrnllwg was driven from his father’s kingdom by Irish pirates during the chaos of the 5th century. He lived amongst the peasants until a visit from Saint Germanus changed his fortunes. Saint Germanus laid siege to the capital, as it was held by Irish pagans, and Cadell offered the saint his humble hospitality. Saint Germanus had a premonition of disaster, and warned Cadell and his friends to get out of the city. That night the palace was struck by lightning and the resulting fire burned everyone alive, so without any annoying questions from insurance investigators, Cadell was able to regain his throne.
There is a famous explorer in Australian history with the surname Cadell – a Scotsman called Francis Cadell who was the first to explore and navigate the Murray River by steamship. A man who lived a life of adventure, he took part in the New Zealand land wars, where he staged a mutiny against his captain, and also was one of the first to explore the Northern Territory (where Cadel Evans was born), where the Cadell Strait bears his name. Later in life, he took up whaling, pearling, and trading in the East Indies, and was murdered near New Guinea; a fittingly violent end to an exciting life.
A fictional namesake is Cadel Piggot, the protagonist of the Evil Genius series of young adult books by Australian author Catherine Jinks. It’s about a boy who is very small with curly blonde hair and baby blue eyes, and an evil genius with a passion for IT. The series follows his exploits from the ages of 7 to 15 as he gradually develops a sense of right and wrong.
Since Cadel Evans’ historic win at the Tour de France, I have seen quite a few baby boys named Cadel, although the name is still rare in Australia. In the UK, there were 4 baby boys named Cadel in 2013, the name apparently rising slightly after Cadel Evans’ victory. In the US, there were 10 baby boys named Cadel in the US in 2014, down from 19 in 2012 and 17 in 2011. It seems that Cadel Evans did give the name a boost in the US after the 2011 Tour de France, but it has faded, as the name Cadel is now less used than it was in 2010, when there were 12 boys named Cadel.
Cadel fits in quite well with current trends in boy names, looking similar to Caden and Cade. Although at the start of his career, Cadel Evans had his name mispronounced as KAY-del, to sound like cradle without the R, I think by now everyone knows he says his name kuh-DEL (like Adele with a K at the front). This isn’t the British pronunciation, which is more like KAD-el. However, now that Evans has retired, it is unclear whether the name Cadel will continue gathering steam, or run out of puff.
Cadel received an approval rating of 60%. 16% of people thought it was handsome or attractive, but an equal number believed it was too closely associated with Cadel Evans, and felt like a “one person name”. Few were willing to predict the name’s fortunes – 2% thought the name Cadel would continue growing in popularity, while 5% were fairly sure the name was a flash in the pan that would soon be forgotten.