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September 29, 2009

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Evans gives Australia 1st world title

TWICE Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans pipped the favorites to win the road race at the world championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, on Sunday, becoming the first Australian to claim the title.

Evans broke clear around four kilometers from the end of the 262.2km race - 19 laps of a 13.8km circuit - to prevail and make up for a disappointing 30th place in this year's Tour.

He also went a long way to shrugging off his reputation as an unlucky loser.

His near-misses included the same event in Stuttgart two years ago when he was in a group of sprinters who crossed the line almost together but ended up with fifth place.

Russia's Alexandr Kolobnev produced a late burst to finish second, 27 seconds behind, edging Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez into third place in a sprint for the line. It was Kolobnev's second silver in three years.

Evans, 32, beat a field which included local favorite Fabian Cancellara, winner of Thursday's time trial, Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde, Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez, defending champion Alessandro Ballan and Damiano Cunego of Italy.

"Sometimes, it got demoralizing to come second so many times," Evans told reporters. "You do the same work and face the same difficulties as the one who wins. But I've always looked ahead to the future and the possibility of winning.

"I'm very proud to win the first world championship for my country," added Evans, who has a second home 3km from the finish line.

"I suffered from some illness during the Tour de France and I couldn't be as competitive as I would have wished. Straight after the Tour de France, I concentrated on preparing for the race today."

Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov, who returned to cycling last month after a two-year doping ban, was the first to try to break clear on the last lap but was quickly roped in by the first group of chasers, which included three Spaniards.

Cancellara, aiming to become the first man to do the double of world championship time trial and road race, was next when he burst clear climbing the Castel San Pietro, the first of two hills on the circuit.


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