Evans sheds bridesmaid dress for rainbow jersey
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Evans sheds bridesmaid dress for rainbow jersey

by Steve Jones at 11:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, World Championships
 

Australian Cadel Evans made history in the men's road race today with a well-timed attack on the finishing circuit in Mendrisio, Switzerland wiping away his disappointing season, while at the same time entering the history books by securing the first rainbow jersey in the event for his country.  Alexandr Kolobnev of Russia finished second and Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain third 27 seconds behind the flying Aussie.

Evans, who came unraveled in this year's Tour de France after two consecutive second place finishes, had his bad luck continue in the Vuelta a España when a flat followed by a poor wheel change derailed his bid for victory during a critical moment of the race.

But today the Australian has erased all of that, proving that, despite the mental knocks a tough season has given him, he can keep his head together when it counts and handle the pressure that comes with winning a marquee event.

"It's a promotion for the world championships in Geelong next year. This course suits me better than the one in Geelong and I think I proved that today," said Evans.

"It's also an answer to those criticisms that I've had, saying I never attack."

Evans began to shed that reputation earlier this year when he served up a healthy diet of pain to Spaniards Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador in the mountains of the Dauphiné Libere.

Now the 32-year-old will be wearing the Rainbow jersey in 2010, and after what's happened to the Aussie in 2009, he certainly looks capable of eating the fabled "rainbow jersey curse' for breakfast each morning.

It has been two decades since a Tour de France contender (Greg Lemond ) has won the worlds road race championship and followed it up by winning the Grand Boucle.  With this breakthrough win, one can expect a highly motivated and mentally solid Evans aiming for the Malliot Juane on the final podium in Paris.

How the race unfolded

After a mundane start, a flurry of attacks began to animate the race eventually forming the first break of the day.  It included six riders - all from different nations: Andre Greipel (Germany), Christoph Sokoll(Austria), Jan Barta (Czech Republic), Matija Kvasina (Croatia), Peter Kusztor (Hungary), and Yukiya Arashiro (Japan).

Behind, the race began to split up as surges worked to neutralize any attempts to get across to the front group. But after all the accelerations subsided, a chase group of four was allowed to break free, joining the leading six.  The four newcomers included Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia), Mauricio Ardila (Columbia), Olegs Melehs (Latvia) and Volodymyr Zagorodny (Ukraine).

After deciding that was enough of the easy pace, the Italian team went to the front and began to chip away at the six minute lead of the front ten.  They were joined by some Belgians working for Philippe Gilbert and a member of Alejandro Valverde's Spanish squad.

With just over 100 kilometers remaining, a chase group of five formed containing defending World Champion Allesandro Ballan, his Italian teammates Michele Scarponi and Giovanni Visconti, Belgians Greg Van Avernmaet and Francis De Greef, and a lone Spaniard in Joaquin Rodriguez.  The quintet was soon joined by Michael Albasini (Switzerland), Paul Maertens (Germany), and Johnny Hoogerland (Netherlands).

The chase group eventually swelled to over twenty, with many of the favorites still riding back in the main peloton. But on the penultimate lap, Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara decided it was time to get to work, desperately wanting to win in front of the cheering home crowds.  He was quickly marked by the Italians and Spanish, and his efforts forced the selection from which the winner would come.

At the start of the last lap Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov attacked the front group managing to create a small gap.  But the final ascent of the Acqua Fresca proved to be too much for Vino, setting up the counter attack from Rodríguez using the traffic furniture to his advantage.

Evans left nothing to chance, bridging across to the Spaniard and an astute Kolbonev followed while the group of favorites that included Matti Breschel (Denmark), Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), Damiano Cunego (Italy), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Samuel Sanchez (Spain), Alejandro Valverde (Spain) all stared at one another as the podium rode away.

At the base of the Novazzano climb Evans attacked showing the same relentless style that first emerged at this year's Dauphiné.  With that surge, the Australian dropped his companions as well as years of doubt that have surrounded the 32-year-old's career.

Results for the men's road race:

1. Cadel Evans (AUS) 6hr 56min 26sec (average: 37.777 km/h)
2. Alexandre Kolobnev (RUS) at 27
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP) 27
4. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) 30
5. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) 30
6. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) 51
7. Matti Breschel (DEN) 51
8. Damiano Cunego (ITA) 51
9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) 51
10. Simon Gerrans (AUS) 1:47
11. Fabian Wegmann (GER) 1:47
12. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (NOR) 1:47
13. Chris Sorensen (DEN) 1:59
14. Johnny Hoogerland (NED) 2:02
15. Oscar Freire (ESP) 2:02
16. Ivan Basso (ITA) 2:02
17. Andre Cardoso (POR) 2:44
18. Michael Barry (CAN) 2:44
19. Sergei Ivanov (RUS) 2:44
20. Karsten Kroon (NED) 2:50
21. Filippo Pozzato (ITA) 2:50
22. Leonardo Duque (COL) 2:50
23. Koos Moerenhout (NED) 2:50
24. Sylwester Szmyd (POL) 2:50
25. Kevin De Weert (BEL) 2:50
26. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) 2:50

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