Bad Luck banished.
The untimely crashes, misfortunate mechanicals, eternal second places, this year’s Tour de France debacle, the disappointments and frustrations with his Silence-Lotto squad, the incessant whispers that he’d never win anything of consequence. All gone Sunday in the Men’s World Championship Road Race in Mendrisio, Switzerland. Gone forever and always.
On the final climb up the Novazzano, Evan dropped Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Spain) and took a solo victory by a sweet 27 seconds. He must have had the whole R section of the dictionary in his head: revenge, redemption, relief, reward and — being flat out exhausted — rest and relaxation.
As the media scrum engulfed him, Evan kissed again and again the wedding ring that hung from his neck. It was an absolution, an almost fervent release of all he had endured and suffered. Was that a little heavy on the religious imagery? The man was damn happy the hoard of monkeys were off his back. Fortune finally smiled on the self-described unluckiest man in the peloton.
The five men watching. Rolling in roughly 30 seconds behind the top three finishers were most of the stars, favorites and popular picks. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) , Samuel Sanchez (Spain), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Damiano Cunego (Italy) and Alejandro Valverde (Spain) all had that “oh well” feeling. Too marked, too tactically boxed in and, unlike Evans, getting no help from the cycling gods.
Unable to close the gap, they spent the last kilometers shrugging shoulders and playing a sad game of what-if. Only Cancellara, at home in front of cheering Swiss fans, made a concerted attempt to win with an attack in the penultimate lap. It was a decisive move but not the winning move. Alejandro Valverde, perhaps exhausted from his long flight from his Costa Rican hotel, never had the legs to challenge Evans.
That checkmate move belonged to Evans and it was perhaps the biggest of his career. “I’ve been thinking about this race for two years,” said the Australian. Evans has the rainbow jersey now, yup, that’s him, The Luckiest Man in Mendrisio.