Evans conquers the Mur de Huy

World Champion Cadel Evans has come second on the Mur de Huy in the past, but this year he timed his effort perfectly to overtake Alberto Contador (Astana) and hold of a surging Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) to take his first Flèche Wallonne victory.

The BMC rider waited while Contador launched his move behind Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Igor Anton, using his previous experiences on the brutal final climb to judge his effort precisely, saving just enough to surge to the win in the final hundred metres.

Contador faded to third behind Rodriguez, while Anton held on for fourth ahead of Damiano Cunego (Lampre).

"I've finished second, fifth, ninth - I've finished in every position but first in Flèche Wallonne, so to win is fantastic," said Evans. "It's the first time I've come here while preparing for the Giro d'Italia and so my periodization and training is in a bit of a different order.

"It seems I came here with good legs and it's certainly my best result. I was second a few years ago but I'm very, very happy to have won. It's a good morale booster for the team. We've been close to victory but this is a good way to do it. Better late than never."

Rodriguez was disappointed to miss out on victory after his team road aggressively all race long.  “Our team still rode a very good race, we have a strong team with good relationships between us. It’s a pity that I was not able to win. I think I was missing a little bit of confidence in myself after having stomach problem in the Amstel Gold Race. I thought I was weaker than the normal, but it was a mistake because I was good. Anyway many compliments to Cadel," said the Spaniard.

Contador was happy to show himself in the finale, but felt the final climb would have had to have been a bit longer for his qualities. "I am not a specialist in Classics, because the best quality I have is recovery, but despite that I'm happy with what I achieved today. After the circumstances of the journey to come here, it’s not bad, but it is also true that when you're so close it is not a relief to be third," said the Astana rider.

He was happy to gain some more experience in the race, and now is looking forward to Sunday's Liège - Bastogne - Liège. "I will try to recover and I would do well, but am aware that it is a different race. In Fleche we passed several times through the finish and it is not the same in Liege. I do not know how I will respond there."

The final climb

The race was decided – as it so often is – on the closing climb up the much-feared Mur de Huy, the third trip up the 1.3km long beast with gradients over 20%. As in past years, all breakaways were nullified before the climb approached and one rider hit at the base of the climb with an ill-fated attack.

This year it was RadioShack's Andreas Klöden who was the first to go, but his early move was doomed to failure as the seriously steep pitch brought him to a near stand-still. Anton then took over at the mid-way point, with Contador right behind him.

But the Mur de Huy wasn't quite finished with the feisty Spaniard, and as Contador sprinted past Anton, the climb bit down hard and even the best climber in the world could not withstand the punishing pitch.

As the final metres approached, Evans, who showed no signs of suffering the legendary "curse of the rainbow bands", showed he had learned a few things about patience in his previous lost battles with the Mur, and moved easily around the struggling Spaniard to take his first ever Classic win, with Rodriguez surging past the Tour de France winner at the line to claim second.

Experience certainly counted for Evans, who was competing in his seventh Fleche. While Contador's move was powerful, the Australian knew that the Spaniard had gone too soon.

"Contador was good and certainly had the legs. With about 500 metre I thought he had it, but it’s not the first time I've done this race and I used that to my advantage today."

Evans credited a pre-race reconnaissance at the insistence of BMC team director John Lelangue with his improved tactics.

"I realized I had always raced it with the wrong tactic. Today I had good position right from the start, but waited until the last 100 meters. That was the way to do it.."

The world of cycling has already seen one World Champion double up in the Classics season, with time trial title holder Fabian Cancellara doing the Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double. Does Evans fancy his chances for another win in Liège - Bastogne - Liège on Sunday?

"Sometimes when you win one of these, it means everyone is watching you for Liège, and that doesn't help. We'll see on Sunday," he concluded.

An early start, a break and a big crash

The day got off to an early start for at least two teams. Rabobank and Saxo Bank were awakened by doping controllers at 6:45 a.m., and the Danish team had to wait an hour until it was their turn for testing.

On a cool and overcast day in the French-speaking part of Belgium, 182 riders got underway from the town of Charleroi.

Davide Palumbo was the first serious aggressor at 44 km, and was soon joined by David Loosli (Lampre), Dimitri Champion (AG2R) Benjamin Gourgue (Landbouwkrediet) and Stephane Auge (Cofidis).

By the time the peloton crested the Mur de Huy the first time the quintet had amassed a lead of 8:25.

Caisse d'Epargne and Katusha moved to the head of the bunch to dig into the chase work, and the gap started dropping. With about 80km remaining the leaders still had more than five minutes advantage, but seven riders thought it was a good time to counter-attack over the Côte de Haut-Bois.

Laurent Didier and Jens Voigt (both Saxo Bank), Daniele Righi (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Thomas De Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Christophe Moreau (Caisse d'Epargne), and Chris Froome (Sky) started to eat into the leaders' advantage quickly but the effort also inspired the peloton to up its game.

A big crash about 20km later took down a number of riders, including RadioShack's Yaroslav Popovych, said to have suffered a knee injury. The wreck split the field, which just inspired more teams to step up the pace, and the peloton soon caught the chase group.

Palumbo, who started the early attack, was the first to fall out of the group, and he was followed by Gourgue and Auge. Close behind them were Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Biel Kadri (Ag2R-La Mondiale), while Bram Tankink of Rabobank was the last to succumb.

The lead group fell apart on the second climb of the Mur van Huy, with Tankink maintaining a few second's lead at the top ahead of the field.

Andy Schleck led the peloton up the Mur van Huy for the second time, passing those who had dropped out of the lead group. Not far behind him were brother Fränk, Alberto Contador (Astana), and Damiano Cunego (Lampre), who were on the lookout for counter-attacks given the new placement of the Mur de Huy's second trip just 30km from the finish.

Yet it wasn't on the climb that the action heated up, but on the descent when Fränk Schleck, Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and Davide Loosli (Lampre) got away, soon to be joined by Tankink who had held his position at the front of the group.

The field was strung out single file as more riders gave chase, with Astana doing the bulk of the work for their man Contador.

Sensing danger, Garmin-Transition's Ryder Hesjedal rocketed out of the bunch in pursuit, and was joined by Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma Lotto), Lars Peter Nordhaug (Sky), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) and Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux), but the five men couldn't get a rhythm going before the peloton was back in contact..

Katusha then sent Alexandr Kolobnev on the attack, with the Russian gaining a dozen seconds before he too was reeled in.

As the Côte d'Ereffe approached, the BMC team moved Evans into position behind the Astana train, which was keeping the lead group of Schleck, Kreuziger, Loosli and Tankink at a steady 20 seconds.

Katusha was on the attack again over the top of the climb, this time with Serguei Ivanov, winner of last year's Amstel Gold Race, putting in a serious bid.

Once again, it was Hesjedal who tried to jump across, this time joined by a Lampre rider, but the move only served to bring along the entire peloton to the Russian champion.

Kolobnev went on the counter-attack, in what was clearly a bid to soften the legs of the favourites for their man Joaquim Rodriguez. He pulled away Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and a Francaise des Jeux rider, but once again the Astana-led bunch nailed them back.

The attack served to close the gap to the four men out front, and with 5km to go, the field was all back together.

The Caisse d'Epargne team launched Luis Leon Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde off the front as the final climb neared, but with three kilometres to the line it was far too soon and coming into the base of the climb the bunch was once more intact.

Klöden launched his ill-fated move at the base, only to be nailed back by Contador's surge while the crafty and patient World Champion loomed in the shadows, biding his time until just the right moment to make his final attack. That came with 100m to go, and after six tries Evans finally bagged his first Classic at La Flèche Wallonne.

 

Full Results

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1Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team4:39:24
2Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team KatushaRow 1 - Cell 2
3Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) AstanaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:00:06
5Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini0:00:09
6Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:00:11
7Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioshackRow 6 - Cell 2
8Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 7 - Cell 2
9Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo BankRow 8 - Cell 2
10Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - TransitionsRow 9 - Cell 2
11Michael Albasini (Swi) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 10 - Cell 2
12Bert De Waele (Bel) LandbouwkredietRow 11 - Cell 2
13Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 12 - Cell 2
14Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française Des JeuxRow 13 - Cell 2
15Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank0:00:19
16Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 15 - Cell 2
17Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Daniel Martin (Can) Garmin - TransitionsRow 17 - Cell 2
19Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne0:00:24
20Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 19 - Cell 2
21Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française Des JeuxRow 20 - Cell 2
22Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, le Credit en LigneRow 21 - Cell 2
23Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling Team0:00:27
24Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioshackRow 23 - Cell 2
25Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Team RadioshackRow 24 - Cell 2
26Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step0:00:32
27Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 26 - Cell 2
28Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 27 - Cell 2
29Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La MondialeRow 29 - Cell 2
31Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha0:00:36
32Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 31 - Cell 2
33Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) LandbouwkredietRow 32 - Cell 2
34Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia0:00:39
35Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom0:00:41
36Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:00:42
37Yury Trofimov (Rus) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 36 - Cell 2
38Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone0:00:45
39Rémi Cusin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 38 - Cell 2
40Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 39 - Cell 2
41Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo0:00:47
42Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo BankRow 41 - Cell 2
43Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 42 - Cell 2
44Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioshackRow 43 - Cell 2
45John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 44 - Cell 2
46Christian Knees (Ger) Team MilramRow 45 - Cell 2
47Marcel Wyss (Swi) Cervelo Test Team0:00:53
48Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions0:00:56
49Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) LandbouwkredietRow 48 - Cell 2
50Geert Verheyen (Bel) LandbouwkredietRow 49 - Cell 2
51Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team MilramRow 50 - Cell 2
52Tony Martin (Ger) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 51 - Cell 2
53Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 52 - Cell 2
54Juan Jose Oroz (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 53 - Cell 2
55Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d'EpargneRow 54 - Cell 2
56Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 56 - Cell 2
58Bram Tankink (Ned) RabobankRow 57 - Cell 2
59Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini0:01:03
60Francesco Failli (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 59 - Cell 2
61Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des JeuxRow 60 - Cell 2
62Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom0:01:06
63Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:01:07
64Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 63 - Cell 2
65Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 64 - Cell 2
66Davy Commeyne (Bel) LandbouwkredietRow 65 - Cell 2
67Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) AstanaRow 67 - Cell 2
69Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick StepRow 68 - Cell 2
70Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:01:14
71Bauke Mollema (Ned) RabobankRow 70 - Cell 2
72Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne0:01:19
73Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux0:01:24
74Steven Cummings (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 73 - Cell 2
75Dominique Nerz (Ger) Team Milram0:01:29
76Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team KatushaRow 75 - Cell 2
77Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 76 - Cell 2
78Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 77 - Cell 2
79Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick StepRow 78 - Cell 2
80Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini0:01:36
81Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 80 - Cell 2
82Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 81 - Cell 2
83Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 82 - Cell 2
84Paul Martens (Ger) RabobankRow 83 - Cell 2
85Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - TransitionsRow 84 - Cell 2
86Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
87Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 86 - Cell 2
88Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 87 - Cell 2
89Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) RabobankRow 88 - Cell 2
90David Loosli (Swi) Lampre-Farnese Vini0:01:44
91Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:02:05
92Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini0:02:23
93Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française Des Jeux0:02:30
94Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo0:02:39
95David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:03:02
96Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:04:23
97Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana0:05:23
98Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) AstanaRow 97 - Cell 2
99André Steensen (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 98 - Cell 2
100Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo BankRow 99 - Cell 2
101Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team KatushaRow 100 - Cell 2
102Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 101 - Cell 2
103Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick StepRow 102 - Cell 2
104Dimitri Champion (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 103 - Cell 2
105Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) RabobankRow 104 - Cell 2
106Bart Dockx (Bel) LandbouwkredietRow 105 - Cell 2
107Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne0:05:28
108Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
109Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana0:05:31
110Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Sky Professional Cycling Team0:07:51
111Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'EpargneRow 110 - Cell 2
112Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne0:08:10
113Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick StepRow 112 - Cell 2
114Anthony Roux (Fra) Française Des Jeux0:08:15
115Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank0:08:21
116Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:10:55
117Laurent Didier (Lux) Team Saxo BankRow 116 - Cell 2
118Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank0:11:00
119Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 118 - Cell 2
120Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 119 - Cell 2
121Craig Lewis (USA) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 120 - Cell 2
122Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des JeuxRow 121 - Cell 2
123Christian Meier (Can) Garmin - Transitions0:11:42
124Serguei Klimov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 123 - Cell 2
125Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 124 - Cell 2
126Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 125 - Cell 2
127Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 126 - Cell 2
128Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 127 - Cell 2
129Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 128 - Cell 2
130Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Androni GiocattoliRow 129 - Cell 2
131Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 130 - Cell 2
132Paolo Ciavatta (Ita) Acqua e Sapone0:11:48
133Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne0:11:51
134Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:11:54
135Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:11:56
136Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 135 - Cell 2
137Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team MilramRow 136 - Cell 2
138Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo TestTeamRow 137 - Cell 2
139Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 138 - Cell 2
140Reinier Honig (Ned) Acqua & SaponeRow 139 - Cell 2
141Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini0:12:00
142Benjamin Gourgue (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:12:12
DNFFabrice Piemontesi (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 142 - Cell 2
DNFFabian Wegmann (Ger) Team MilramRow 143 - Cell 2
DNFGianni Meersman (Bel) Française Des JeuxRow 144 - Cell 2
DNFSteven Cozza (USA) Garmin - TransitionsRow 145 - Cell 2
DNFTrent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - TransitionsRow 146 - Cell 2
DNFDanny Pate (USA) Garmin - TransitionsRow 147 - Cell 2
DNFGorazd Stangelj (Slo) AstanaRow 148 - Cell 2
DNFThomas Bertolini (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 149 - Cell 2
DNFLuis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Androni GiocattoliRow 150 - Cell 2
DNFArtur Gajek (Ger) Team MilramRow 151 - Cell 2
DNFLuca Solari (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 152 - Cell 2
DNFAnthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 153 - Cell 2
DNFFrancesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 154 - Cell 2
DNFMauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 155 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas-DoimoRow 156 - Cell 2
DNFTristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en LigneRow 157 - Cell 2
DNFAlessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 158 - Cell 2
DNFAlessandro Fantini (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 159 - Cell 2
DNFDamiano Margutti (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 160 - Cell 2
DNFKim Kirchen (Lux) Team KatushaRow 161 - Cell 2
DNFGiuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 162 - Cell 2
DNFJonas Jorgensen (Den) Saxo BankRow 163 - Cell 2
DNFAitor Galdos Alonso (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 164 - Cell 2
DNFJackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 165 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 166 - Cell 2
DNFMario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 167 - Cell 2
DNFChristophe Brandt (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 168 - Cell 2
DNFJosé Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 169 - Cell 2
DNFPaul Voss (Ger) Team MilramRow 170 - Cell 2
DNFBen Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 171 - Cell 2
DNFDominik Roels (Ger) Team MilramRow 172 - Cell 2
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team KatushaRow 173 - Cell 2
DNFJérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 174 - Cell 2
DNFPieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 175 - Cell 2
DNFAddy Engels (Ned) Quick StepRow 176 - Cell 2
DNFFrancesco Reda (Ita) Quick StepRow 177 - Cell 2
DNFKevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quick StepRow 178 - Cell 2
DNFYaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team RadioshackRow 179 - Cell 2
DNFIvan Rovny (Rus) Team RadioshackRow 180 - Cell 2
DNFKjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 181 - Cell 2

 

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