By Gregor Brown in Ans
Evans 'a little bit behind'
Australian Cadel Evans finished 36th in one of the two Monuments that is best suited for his talents, the Liège-Bastogne-Liège (the other being the Giro di Lombardia). The Predictor-Lotto rider was not too satisfied with is placing but nonetheless enjoyed the day's racing. "It did not really go well for me today," he noted after finishing the 262-kilometre race.
The Australian helped his American teammate Chris Horner, both of whom are racing the Tour de Romandie. "Chris looked in a good position for a while. I was good enough to be there but not to be part of the winning moves.
"In the end I could not position myself for the last climbs, so when the race split I was just a little bit behind it. My race was over at that point but when you are not at top level that is what happens."
Commenting on the the warm weather, Evans added, "The temperatures suited me well but if you are not at the top it does not matter here."
Vande Velde, not Vandenbroucke
"I was surprised at how I felt today," said American Christian Vande Velde (Team CSC) at the finish of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He worked hard for his teammate Fränk Schleck to ensure a team success.
Vande Velde was most impressive on the Redoute, where he split the field as the day's main escape was being pulled closer and closer. "On the Côte de la Redoute I wanted to ride hard for Fränk and then I looked back and I noticed I was on my own. I thought, 'oh shoot.' I kept going hard but I had been pulling all day and I was soon done.
"I was in the small chain ring going up the Redoute; I was not doing any Frank Vandenbroucke stuff," he said with a laugh when asked about his gear selection.
His work ensured that Schleck finished on the podium in Belgium's oldest Classic. "He got third and I think that is great considering the week he has had. He doubts himself a lot but he is always is good, and when he gets in sight of the finish line he is dangerous."
For a non-European rider, Vande Velde has experience riding Liège's côtes. "I think I have raced this seven or eight times. This year was spur of the moment, coming right after the Tour of Georgia. I had good form there and I got called up for Liège. Overall, this is a race where you always suffer."
Rodríguez to Romandie
"I did great race today but just lacked a little force at the end," noted Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) after helping his teammate Alejandro Valverde arrive in second in the 93rd Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"I was very happy to see Valverde finish second," continued the Spaniard, who finished 75th. Rodríguez reckoned that the Italian winner, Danilo Di Luca, had a little something extra than his teammate. "Di Luca is an amazing rider and I think he showed that he was the strongest."
Rodríguez shepherded Valverde to his two Ardennes wins in 2006, and one year later, he was just as important in helping him achieve his podium places. "Alejandro said he felt really well during the race but it was just that Di Luca was going very strong."
The next race for Rodríguez is Romandie. The Spaniard will take a break and then rebuild his form to help Valverde finish, and possibly win, the Tour de France. "For me the legs were going well. I lacked some force at 15 kilometres to go. To win next year? I don't know but I do know I would like to win Liège some day. From here I will go to Romandie and I do want to win something there."
Freire builds for Tour after Liège
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) may have been out of his league in the rolling hills of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège but he he rode in support of Michael Boogerd and Thomas Dekker. After six-plus hours of racing, the three-time World Champion finished 78th.
"It was very very bad today," an exhausted Freire explained at the finish in Ans. "I think this race is too hard for me. The hills don't suit my characteristics; I need smaller climbs."
Freire will return to his home in Spain, where he will build for the Tour de France. "Now I will take a break in Spain, resting for a week and then build for the Tour de France," concluded the multiple Tour stage winner.
Rogers uses Ardennes form for Romandie
Michael Rogers did not have a significant result in the three Ardennes Classics, but he ensured that his legs will have the proper amount of racing kilometres going into the remainder of the season.
After an exhausting 262-kilometre effort in Belgium he explained his race. "I tried to help get my teammates into position for Saint-Nicolas and then after that it was just a matter of surfing to the finish."
The Aussie who live in Italy finished 84th. "I was pretty good, not too super but I was happy," he continued. Rogers will travel to Switzerland for the Tour de Romandie, May 1 - 5. He will form part of the T-Mobile team with Marco Pinotti and Serhiy Honchar. "Just one more week of hard racing before I will be able to take a break. I hope to have a good go there after these three hard Ardennes races."