Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) won the Coppa Sabatini race in Italy on Thursday, with a perfectly-timed surge on the uphill finish.
Italians Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri) and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Diquigiovanni) finished second and third but never troubled Gilbert in the sprint to the line.
New world champion Cadel Evans worked hard for his team mate during the testing 199km race. Evans was part of the 25-rider break that formed after half an hour of racing and made sure the move stayed away.
On the last lap Evans dragged Gilbert up the two-kilometre climb at a speed that lined out the break. Gilberto jumped away coming round the last hairpin corner and Visconti and Bertagnolli never had a chance ofcatching him.
Evans finished 13th, eight seconds behind but got a huge cheer from the crowd for honouring his debut in the rainbow jersey.
Only 24 riders finished the race, with the rest of the 111-rider field, including Brits Charly Wegelius and Adam Blythe, were caught in the second group.
“Evans did a lot for work for me on the last climb and showed what kind of world champion he really is,” Gilbert said of his team mate.
“It was important and meant I could wait behind him for the last 200 metres. When you see the world champion work like that it gives you extra strength and determination.”
“We knew that there were only 14 teams in the race and so it wouldn’t be easy to control the race. We worked hard together to make sure we stayed away. It was a special move and the gap was never a lot but it worked out.”
“In the sprint I was especially scared of Visconti. He’s fast and even Leo (Bertagnolli) has won twice here. But I’m on good form and feel good mentally. It’s a good win for me and is good for my moral before Sunday’s Paris-Tours. It’s a different kind of finish because here is uphill for me but it’s an important win for me and team. I’ll be even more motivated for Paris-Tours and then the Giro di Piemonte and the Tour of Lombardy after that.”
Cadel Evans, racing in his world champ’s jersey for the first time, was popular with the crowd
Evans’ world champion’s bike
Britain’s Charly Wegelius
Philippe Gilbert takes the win