While Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden contemplate sitting on the sidelines in July, the new favourite for the Tour de France, Cadel Evans, rubbed salt into their wounds by taking his first victory of the new season.
The Australian, who finished second behind Contador in last year's Tour took the second stage of the Ruta del Sol in the south of Spain.
Evans jumped out of a group of 17 riders who got away on the final four-kilometre climb to La Zubia to win.
He's the first of the major Tour de France favourites to savour the winning feeling this season.
It may only be a small victory in the grand scheme of things but as Astana work out whether to appeal ASO's decision to exclude them from the Tour, one of their chief rivals has scored a morale-boosting win.
Evans had three Silence-Lotto team-mates for company in the decisive group and used that strength in numbers to his advantage, setting up an attack close to the finish.
Evans with an under-stated victory salute at La Zubia. By Luc Claessen
|HOW THE BOOKIES SEE IT|
Unibet.com's current odds for victory in the 2008 Tour de France
Cadel Evans 3.00
Denis Menchov 7.00
Alejandro Valverde 8.00
Carlos Sastre 9.00
Damiano Cunego 17.00
Michael Rogers 18.00
Andy Schleck 20.00
Oscar Pereiro 25.00
Yaroslav Popovych 30.00
Thomas Dekker 30.00
Jose Angel Gomez Marchante 30.00
Christophe Moreau 30.00
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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.
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