Evans steals Fleche Wallonne win from Contador.
Once again, Cadel Evans proved that since winning the World Championship Road Race last year in Mendrisio, he’s a new man. He’s aggressive, opportunistic, relentlessly confident. Mild mannered Cadel Evans is the snarling junkyard dog of the peloton.
In Fleche Wallonne, he chose a very special victim: Tour de France king, Alberto Contador of team Astana. On the final climb of the fearsome Mur de Huy, Evans worked with surgical precision, timing the kill to perfection. When Contator attacked, the Aussi waited until the last seconds to counter and take a well-deserved win.
“I’ve finished second, fifth, ninth – I’ve finished in every position but first in Flèche Wallonne, so to win is fantastic,” said Evans. “I waited right until the last moment, I took them just in the last 100 meters and that was the right time to go.”
Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) passed Contador for second place as Alberto faded, perhaps suffering the added fatigue of his 1900 car trip across Spain and France to Belgium for the race. He climbed the Pyrenees fast in his Audi but ran out of gas just short of the finish line in La Fleche Wallonne.
Radio Shack’s Chris Horner, fresh off his impressive overall win in the recent Vuelta al Pais Vasco, put in a great ride for 7th place, just beating out Alejandro “borrowed time” Valverde. The same guy he knocked off in the Vasco time trial.
The UCI can’t stop Valverde but Horner has the Spaniard’s number. Chris can expect a congratulatory tweet from Boss Lance Armstrong any moment. Barring a bad crash, his inclusion in the Shack Tour roster looks guaranteed.
It would be tempting to move Damiano Cunego (Lampre) from fourth to third as Valverde’s participation in Fleche Wallonne is more than suspect and embarrassing. But despite the CAS ruling that his two year doping suspension was legal, UCI president Patrick McQuaid still can’t pull the trigger on a global ban. Then again, Cunego’s own Lampre team has doping allegations of its own.
There is much cheering in the BMC team bus. Cadel not only gave the team it’s long-awaited first win but probably scored a gift certificate from George Hincapie for his signature sportswear. Cadel’s a junkyard dog, a well dressed dog.