Reuters - Wed, 21 Apr 15:28:00 2010
A radical change of strategy by world champion Cadel Evans resulted in the Australian winning the Fleche Wallone classic.
The BMC rider shadowed double Tour de France winner Alberto Contador until the final metres of the decisive Mur de Huy climb.
He then swooped past to claim his first victory wearing the rainbow jersey of world champion to record the first win by an Australian in the 74-year-old race.
Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez was second with double Tour de France champion Alberto Contador in third place.
"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 said.
"I saw the final climb in a completely different perspective and realised 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 thanks to his new squad.
"Wearing the world champion's jersey makes a big difference, too," he said. "It's an honour to win in it and I hope to continue honouring it throughout the season."
Cyclng's top stage racer Contador made much of the running in the race, using his Astana team mates to chase down a dangerous four-man break before upping the pace on the Mur de Huy climb.
However, the four-times major Tour winner was powerless to stop Evans coming past in the final metres of the agonisingly steep final climb.
"I came here to learn more about the classics, and performed above my own expectations, but to get so close to winning was frustrating," Contador said.
The Astana leader will now remain in Belgium to race in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege 260 kms classic on Sunday.
"If I could win it, it would mean almost as much as winning another major tour," Contador said. "But I barely know the race and experience is always a huge factor in this kind of event."
Liege-Bastogne-Liege: Sunday 1pm LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) & Eurosport Player