- Australia - cycling - Switzerland
AFP - Cadel Evans ended Australia's long wait for cycling's coveted rainbow jersey when he pulled off a coup to win the men's road race here at the world cycling championships on Sunday.
Evans escaped a small leading group at the foot of the Novazzano climb on the demanding 262.2km course and forged ahead on his own to end the victory hopes of a handful of bigger favourites.
He grabbed Australia's first gold in the event in 6hr 56min with Alexandr Kolobnev of Russia finishing second and Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain third at 27secs in arrears.
In a thrilling finale to the most anticipated one-day race of the year a host of bigger favourites, including Alejandro Valverde of Spain and Damiano Cunego of Italy, failed to shine.
The pair finished nearly a minute behind, with Spain's Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez coming in fourth and Swiss Fabian Cancellara on his wheel.
Evans did well to join on to the back of a nine-man group which formed as Cancellara drove the pace hard late on the way up the Acquafresca climb, the first of two and the most difficult on the 13.8km circuit which was raced 19 times.
And the Australian, who made up for a disastrous Tour de France campaign by finishing third on the Tour of Spain last week, took everyone by surprise as the foot of the Novazzano when he brazenly went off on his own.
Evans, a two-time Tour de France runner-up in 2007 and 2008, has often attacked on the big races only to be reeled in shortly before his target.
But as the Aussie powered his wday up the Novazzano, whose summit was 2.5km from the finish line in Mendrisio, Kolobnev and Rodriguez took their time in responding.
Their hesitancy, and the fact that Valverde and Cunego were riding further back marking each other with Cancellara, ultimately played into his hands.
After a mute celebration as he crossed the finish line, the typically eccentric Australian then let the emotions take over.
He lives only five kilometres from here in Stabio, and said this year's course, as opposed to the 2010 course in Geelong, Australia, where he lives for three months of the year, provided his best chance to become world champion.
"It's a promotion for the world championships in Geelong next year. This course suits me better than the one in Geelong and I think I proved that today," said Evans.
"It's also an answer to those criticisms that I've had, saying I never attack."