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Evans wins Fleche as Martin takes 18th

Posted 21 April 2010

World Champion Cadel Evans has won Fleche Wallonne with an impeccably timed attack which seen him catch and pass Alberto Contador in the final 200 metres on the Mur de Huy.

Dan Martin (Garmin Transitions) was the best placed Irish rider finishing 18th followed by Nicholas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) in 30th while Philip Deignan (Cervelo Test Team) was not listed among the finishers of the 198 kilometre race.

Evans (BMC Racing) showed that he had learned the lessons of the past two years when he lost the race having either attacked too early or having rode too hard on the notoriously difficult 1.3 kilometre finishing climb which averages at 9.3% gradient.

The Australian gave a master class in how timing and patience wins the race after a spectacular final 30 kilometres of racing which owes its entertainment to the race organiser’s decision to reconfigure the course.

The sequence of loops over the Mur was changed so that the second climb of the infamous ‘Wall of Huy’ was only 30 kilometres from the third and final finishing ascent while the 5.9% climb of the Cote d’Ereffe was introduced at the 11 kilometres to go mark.

The real action got under on the second climb of the Mur as Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) led the closing down of an earlier breakaway followed closely by Contador (Astanta) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) with Martin comfortably following wheels in first 20 riders.

The explosive pace eased off as the peloton regrouped over the top of the climb with Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) edging off the front as they swept up David Loosli (Lampre Farnese Vini) and Bram Tankink (Rabobank) as the two remaining breakaway survivors.

The quartet pumped clear gaining 17 seconds on the road to the Cote d’Ereffe as the Astana team rode strongly to bring them under control diffusing an attempt by Alexandr Kolobnev (Kathusa) to bridge the gap.

The lead group, driven by Schleck and Kreuziger, maintained their advantage over the summit with Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Transitions) riding strongly on the climb to bring back Kathusa’s Serguei Ivanov who led his team’s second bid to make contact with the leaders.

Kolobnev, Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux) faired better on the rapid descent with Kolobnev launching a counter attack the minute they reached the front group.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) marshaled the chase for teammate Alejandro Valverde in the closing two kilometers setting the scene for a dramatic showdown on the Mur de Huy.

Andreas Kloden (Team Radioshack) was the first to spring from the pack as it started the climb but Anton had enough in the tank to shut him down pulling Contador and Kreuziger on his wheel.

Contador surged as Kreuziger faded with 300 metres to go, rounding Anton with clear sight of the finish line. But Evans still had a fight in his legs and he clawed his way back, dispatching Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) from his wheel before slipping past Contador inside the final 100 metres for his first win since becoming World Champion.

“Racing with the rainbow jersey is an honour, winning this is even better. I have been second here before, I’ve been fifth, I’ve been ninth, I’ve finished every position but first so to win this is fantastic,” Evans said on winning.

“It is my fifth or sixth participation in Fleche Wallonne but I have never done a course reconnaissance. Yesterday the team’s sports director John Lelangue took us out for a course reconnaissance and I did the climb and I saw the climb from a different perspective.

“I had always raced here with the wrong tactics, so I waited right until the last moment. I had a good position right from the start but waited right for the final and took them just in the last 100 metres, and that was the way to do it” he added.

Result:

Fleche Wallonne, Charleroi – Huy, 198kms

1. Cadel Evan (BMC Racing) 4  hours, 39 minutes, 24 seconds
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) same time.
3. Alberto Condator (Astana) same time.

18. Dan Martin (Garmin Transitions) at 19 secs
30. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La-Mondiale) at 32 secs

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