Evans earns his stripes in the Flèche Wallonne
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Evans earns his stripes in the Flèche Wallonne

by Ben Atkins at 10:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Flèche Wallonne

cadel evansWorld Champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) won the Flèche Wallone with a late surge at the top of the infamous Mur de Huy. He overhauled Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana), who had led the way up most of the steep sections of the climb. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) also passed his compatriot to take third place.

“Director Sportif John Lelangue took us out for reconnaissance and I saw the climb from a different perspective,” Evans said after the finish. “I realized I had always raced it with the wrong tactic. Today I had good position right from the start, but waited until the last 100 meters. That was the way to do it.”

As usual the race was dominated by a breakaway group who led until the closing stages. There were a number of unsuccessful attempts before Giuseppe Palumbo (Acqua & Sapone) managed to get away after 44km, taking David Loosli (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Dimitri Champion (AG2R-La Mondiale), Benjamin Gourgue (Landouwkrediet) and Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) with him. The group’s lead grew rapidly and stood at 8’25” as they crossed the top of the Mur for the first time after 67 kilometers.

On the long 100 kilometer loop before the second ascent of the Mur de Hoy the Caisse d’Epargne and Katusha teams moved to the front of the peloton and began to bring the gap down. There were several counterattacks, featuring riders like Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) and Christophe Moreau (Caisse d’Epargne), but as things threatened to come together as the second ascent of the Mur approached, Champion, Augé and Loosli were joined by Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Blel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Bram Tankink (Rabobank).

The leaders split on the Mur as the gradient took its toll. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) led the peloton up with Contador on his wheel, perhaps hinting at things to come in July’s Tour de France. The extra pace had the effect of splitting the bunch behind them, but it reformed again quite soon after the summit. Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) managed to escape with Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and made it up to Loosli and Tankink.

With the leading four 25 seconds ahead of the Astana led peloton with 15 kilometers to go, there were a number of counterattacks behind them, notably from Alexandr Kolobnev and Sergei Ivanov (both Katusha). On his second attempt Kolobnev took Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) with him and they managed to join the front four to make seven up front. Kolobnev attacked alone almost immediately, but the race all came together again with 2 kilometers remaining as the peloton raced through the streets of Huy for the final time.

As soon as the first few riders reached the lower slopes of the Mur de Hoy Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) took off alone, but his early move failed to stick. Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took the initiative as the climb steepened, with Contador looking comfortable glued to his back wheel. On the steepest section Contador accelerated, but the change of pace was not enough to properly gap Anton, who was in turn followed by Rodriguez and the other favourites.

Both Contador and Anton faded in the closing hundred metres and with 50 to go, as the road began to level, Evans passed them both to finish with his trademark understated thumb-up celebration. Rodriguez also passed his two compatriots but was unable to catch the World champion, who becomes the first rider to win la Flèche Wallone in the rainbow jersey since Claude Criquielion in 1985.

2010 Flèche Wallone result:
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Team Astana
4. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 6s
5. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini @ 9s
6. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto @ 11s
7. Chris Horner (USA) Team RadioShack
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
9. Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions


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