Oakley's Cadel Evans Wins Fleche Wallone Classic
A radical change of strategy by world champion Oakley’s Cadel Evans resulted in the Australian winning the Fleche Wallone classic on Wednesday. Oakley’s Joaquim Rodriguez “Purito” placed second and became the new UCI World Ranking leader. Double Tour de France champion Alberto Contador finished third.
Evans shadowed Alberto Contador until the final meters of the decisive Mur de Huy climb.
He then swooped past to claim his first victory, wearing the rainbow jersey, to record the first win by an Australian in the 74-year-old race.
“I’ve been second, fifth and ninth here in previous years, and ridden it six or seven times, but this was the first time ever I did a pre-race reconnaissance and it changed things a lot,” Evans told reporters.
“I saw the final climb in a completely different perspective and realized I ought to play my cards differently. Doing so meant I waited till the right moment before coming ahead for the win.”
After switching teams to American squad BMC this season, Evans said he was riding more aggressively and with greater motivation. “Wearing the world champion’s jersey makes a big difference, too,” he said. “It’s an honor to win in it and I hope to continue honoring it throughout the season.”
As the new UCI World Ranking leader, Rodriguez stated, “I’m very proud to be the new leader because it is a sign of my regularity in the best races of the first part of this season,” in a statement right after the Dutch race.
“Due to a bad night, during the Amstel Gold Race I didn’t feel good so I decided to abandon to keep the strength for today and for the Liège-Bastogne-Liège of Sunday. I think it was a good decision”, said the Katusha rider.
In regards to his second place at today’s Flèche Wallonne, Rodriguez said, “Cadel Evans was very strong. His has a special way to pedal that seems he is not riding well, but suddenly it is impossible to beat him. At the end I’ve been able to break and overcome Contador, but I hadn’t enough strength either path to go for Evans.”