Another display of force by Australian champion
By Gregor Brown in Huy, Belgium
After an impressive display of power in the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday, Australian road race champion Matthew Lloyd once again proved – at only 24 years old – that he is a rider to be watched. Lloyd provided perfect cover for his Silence-Lotto team leader Cadel Evans, by going in the decisive final escape at Flèche Wallonne.
"It was sort of questionable whether we would have an early move or wait for Cadel at the finish," Lloyd told Cyclingnews in Huy after the race was over. He had just closed the day in 25th – the same as his result in the Amstel Gold race – following the race-ending climb of the Mur de Huy.
The race started in Charleroi under warm and sunny skies, but heavy rains started to fall and made for a wet end to the day in Huy. "It was so wet and filthy," Lloyd continued.
Lloyd's Silence-Lotto team played its cards wisely by sending the youngster on the heels of Frenchman Maxime Monfort, who attacked with 30 kilometres remaining. They joined the early front-runners to form a group of nine with Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner), Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale), Nicki Sørensen (Team CSC), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Addy Engels (Quick Step), Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) and Andriy Grivko (Team Milram).
Despite the grim weather, Lloyd agreed that it favoured the escape's chance of survival. "Yes, we had to try something," he said. "It is one of those finishes where you can never tell who is going to win."
On the Côte de Ahin with 13 kilometres remaining, the move fell apart after Grivko's attack and the work of Caisse d'Epargne behind. Nonetheless, Lloyd's efforts paved the way for his captain to lead onto the Mur de Huy, and Evans' early attack nearly paid dividends before the Silence-Lotto leader was overhauled in the final 175 metres.