So much for the theory that Cadel Evans never attacks. On a sun-drenched afternoon in Mendrisio, the Australian tore off the front at the foot of the final climb for a spectacular lone victory in the men’s World Championship road race. Second was Russia’s Alexandr Kolobnev, whilst Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez finished third.
“This is my answer to those people who say I never go for it,” Evans commented, “and it’s also a nice promotion for Australia, which will be celebrating the World Championships next year.”
Evans played his cards perfectly, shadowing explosive late drives by Fabian Cancellara as the Swiss rider shattered the front group and brought back a dangerous move by Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) and Kolobnev at the start of the final lap.
However, Cancellara’s prolonged acceleration on the downhill section of the first climb failed to shake off all his opponents, and a group of about nine riders, including Evans, regained contact.
The 32-year-old Australian accelerated away on the right-hand side of the road, there was a moment of hesitation behind then the counter-moves went. But by then it was too late.
Pacing himself steadily on the long final climb, Kolobnev and Rodriguez tried to bridge the gap. However, Evans had 13 seconds on the summit and it proved to be more than enough.
One look back before he crossed the finishing line, and Evans then crossed the line blowing kisses to the crowd. As if unable to believe he had finally netted such a huge success, Evans only later raised one arm in victory.
Often slated for his lack of aggression, Evans move had been perfectly timed in a race where a big early break and a huge chasing group of around 30, containing Britain’s Geraint Thomas, had shaped the race.
It briefly looked as if the 30-strong move would stay away, but the Spanish and Dutch piled on the pressure and a final acceleration by Cancellara proved sufficent to bring it all back together. However, it was Evans who profited the most.
Recently third in the Tour of Spain, Evans’ victory turns around a season in which he had completely failed to impact in his main target of the season, the Tour de France.
The result also rounds off a great World Championships for the Australians, who also took the gold medal in the men’s under-23 time trial with Jack Bobridge.
World Championships 2009: Men’s road race, 262.2km
1. Cadel Evans (Australia) in 6-56-26
2. Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia) at 27secs
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spain)at 28secs
4. Samuel Sanchez (Spain) at 30secs
5. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) at same time
6. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) at 51secs
7. Matti Breschel (Denmark)
8. Damiano Cunego (Italy)
9. Alejandro Valverde (Spain) at same time
10. Simon Gerrans (Australia) at 1-47
52. Steve Cummings (Great Britain) at 5-20
92. Roger Hammond (Great Britain) at 10-54
DNF Chris Froome (Great Britain)
DNF David Millar (Great Britain)
DNF Geraint Thomas (Great Britain)
DNF Russell Downing (Great Britain)
DNF Daniel Lloyd (Great Britain)
DNF Ben Swift (Great Britain)
DNF Ian Stannard (Great Britain)
Cadel Evans salutes the crowd after taking the Worlds win
Evans in the rainbow jersey
Road World Championships 2009: Related links
Kennaugh proud of gutsy fourth place performance
Pooley disappointed with ride in women’s road race
Cooke to fight back in women’s road race after difficulat season
Millar ready to take command of Worlds team
Kennaugh ready for under-23 road race
Wiggins accepts time trial defeat
Cancellara says TT victory was ‘most beautiful ever’
Men’s time trial start list
Pooley disappointed with 11th in time trial
Ellingworth explains Cavendish withdrawal from Worlds
Dowsett happy with world-class ride in under-23 TT
Manning praises Dowsett after Worlds TT ride
It’s Cavendish or Stannard for final worlds place
Great Britain names world championships team
Millar won’t ride worlds time trial despite Vuelta win
Wiggins quits Tour of Britain to focus on worlds TT
Out of sorts Cooke abandons Tour de l’Ardeche
Cavendish keen to ride worlds despite illness
Millar set to lead GB road race team at the Worlds
Brits head home to fight for worlds places