World Champion Cadel Evans had promised to work for BMC teammate Karsten Kroon before the start of the Amstel Gold Race and the Australian kept his word, setting up the Dutchman in the finale and then sacrificing his own chances to chase after a dangerous key attack after the Keutenberg climb.
Evans was in the front group containing all the big-name favourites that fought for victory on the Cauberg. He lost a few seconds on the tough climb to the finish and crossed the 13th at 11 seconds. Kroon was just a few places in front of him in ninth place, also at 11 seconds.
BMC had perhaps hoped for a better result after Kroon's second place last year but Evans showed he is on form and will be a contender in Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne and next Sunday's Liège - Bastogne - Liège. His strong ride was also an indication that he is on track for a strong performance in next month's Giro d'Italia.
"That was hard. It was also the best ever Amstel I've ever done but it was not quite good enough," Evans told Cyclingnews as he rode slowly to the BMC team bus.
"I was actually okay until about 10km to go, but then I got cramps. By then I'd already committed my race to helping Karsten, which was fine and something I'm more than happy to do. But I surprised myself. I was good, I was good, I was good and then I was bad."
Evans has spent the last three weeks training intensely for the rapidly approaching Giro d'Italia. Yet he had the strength and courage to fight for position and handled the 31 climbs in the race pretty comfortably.
"At this point in the season I've got to work towards the Giro because that's what I'm going for," he said. "I haven't done many of these but if I'd been able to position myself a little bit better in the last kilometre of the climb my result could have been a bit better. I managed to get past Oscar Freire in the last kliometre but then on the last climb I wasn't that great. But it's a good lesson learnt for next time and my ride makes me optimistic for the rest of the week."