La Flèche Wallonne 2009
The gesture he made as he crossed the line for his third Flèche Wallonne title said it all: pointing to his head before pumping his fist exuberantly, Davide Rebellin demonstrated that he won not just with his legs, but by riding the smartest finale of the race.
“I knew I had to continue to finish off the great work by my team,” said the 37-year-old Rebellin. “I thought I would have good feelings and I did, I won. It might just be be the best of my three wins.”
The Mur de Huy‘s punishing 1300 metres favors those who can be patient and time their efforts to maximum effect. Silence-Lotto’s Cadel Evans knows that now, after he led the field in pursuit of Frenchman David Le Lay (Agritubel) for the better part of a kilometre only to hit the wall at 200m to go. Le Lay will take note as his attack at the base of the climb was brilliantly strong, but ill-timed.
Rebellin, perfectly positioned in third behind Evans and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) bided his time as Le Lay was caught. He let Evans set a furious pace, then made his charge just as the Australian blew and easily sprinted to the victory ahead of Schleck. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) slipped past Evans to claim third and fourth.
“I did not want to be too explosive right away, that is why at the bottom of the climb you saw Nicki Sørensen pulling,” explained Schleck. “Cadel went too early and we were able to get on his wheel, at that point there was a lull in speed and I would have preferred it remained at a high speed.”
Cunego found himself a bit too far back on the steepest part of the climb, but was pleased to have battled back to make the podium. “When we were at 500 metres it got really tough. Those who did not have the legs faded and those who had the legs fought. Through that tough S-turn at 300 metres, I lost a little bit of ground on Schleck and Rebellin. Amstel was a bit unlucky, but I am happy for today.”
For his part, Evans was happy with his fifth place. “I didn’t feel well at all today so I am quite surprised at the result,” said Evans. He attacked at the côte de Bousalle with 22km to go, trying to set up his teammate Philippe Gilbert.
“Since I didn’t feel well, I told the team that they shouldn’t be riding for me and we would go for Gilbert today.” Evans was then asked if the attack came too early and he should have saved his energy for the final climb up the Mur. “Funny, usually people tell me I don’t attack…”
1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli 4.42.15 (41.56 km/h) 2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0.02 3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C. 4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0.07 5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto 6 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - Highroad 7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.11 8 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervelo Test Team 9 Michael Albasini (Swi) Team Columbia - Highroad 10 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0.15