Fl̬che Wallonne РValverde for Movistar


Clothed in Endura kit, Alejandro Valverde of Movistar won the classic Flèche Wallonne just ahead of Dan Martin

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Fl̬che Wallonne РValverde for Movistar



Photo: PelotonPhotos.com

Already a winner in 2006, Alejandro Valverde triumphed again at the top of the Mur de Huy. The Spaniard claims a second Fleche Wallonne beating Daniel Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski to the line. Since his last triumph, he had entered the Top 10 of the event on three occasions.

Valverde made the best of his climbing abilities and the hard work of his Movistar squad throughout the day. A team that first did the necessary work to catch the three escapees of the day, before helping their leader capture a fine success.

The 198 riders of the 78th edition of the Fleche Wallonne took off under a bright sun and clear skies from the city of Bastogne, hosting the start of the event for the very first time.

Bastogne will see the riders visit it again next Sunday during the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.


Photo: PelotonPhotos.com

The race started with a bang as several riders including title-holder Daniel Moreno (KAT) were caught in a crash after only 5kms. A fright and a potential blow for Katusha who had lost Joaquim Rodriguez last weekend on the Amstel Gold Race, already on a crash.

The first serious move of the day occurred after 20kms when three men managed to break away from the pack. Ramunas Navardauskas (GRS) was the first to attack, taking with him Preben Van Heche (TSV) and Jonathan Clarke (UHC). While the pack wasn’t too concerned by the front men, the escapees covered an impressive distance of 49.4kms during the first hour of racing and enjoyed a maximum lead of 8’45 at km 50. From then on riders from teams Katusha and BMC moved to the front of the pack and started chasing.

At the top of the first of three climbs up the Mur de Huy, the gap had dropped down to 5’50. Men from Movistar and Lotto-Bellisol then joined the chase and the gap dropped seriously with just over 40kms to go. The first man to struggle and be dropped was Australian Clarke who was eventually caught by the pack with 38kms to go.


Photo: PelotonPhotos.com

Pierre Rolland (EUC) and Jan Bakelants (OPQ) were then the first of the top contenders to give it a go on a counter-attack going up the Côte d’Ahin, but they were immediately chased and caught. On the second climb up the Mur de Huy, it was Cyril Gautier’s turn to try his luck. He managed to make it clear from the pack at the top while the escapees still enjoyed a 30” lead. But Gautier’s attempt turned out to be vain.

After an impressive effort, there wasn’t much the front two riders could do against the chasing pack and the likes of Kolobnev (KAT) and Herrada (MOV) working hard for their leaders. They were finally caught with 12kms to go, after having spent 167kms in the lead.

With 7kms to go, another Frenchman took off. Jeremy Roy indeed enjoyed a slim 10” advantage 5kms from the line but he too was gobbled up by a pack led by Katusha. Like on the previous years, the decision would be made on the final climb up the Mur de Huy.

After a first attempt by Romain Bardet in the first metres of the ascent, the favourites powered to the front with the likes of Vanendert and Kwitakowski leading the way. In the last 200m, Alejandro Valverde made his decisive effort and flew triumphantly to the line beating last year’s winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Daniel Martin (GRS) and rising star Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQ).

The Spaniard wins the event for the second time after his victory in 2006. Valverde adds a third success to his 2014 season, having already claimed the Tour of Murcia and the Tour of Andalusia. With Amstel Gold Race winner Pjhilippe Gilbert, all eyes will be on the soon to be 34-year-old Valverde who would love to celebrate his birthday, on Friday, with a victory on the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.


Photo: PelotonPhotos.com

Valverde said afterwards “I’m really happy. This victory means a lot to me and the rest of the team. The Ardennes were resisting me in the last few years – always getting podium places, but no victories. I was coming here a bit furious. The team worked well, practically until the very end”.

“I didn’t want to get myself boxed in – I had to get in a very, very good position onto the final climb. I was next to the barriers with 300m to go and couldn’t get past, but as soon as I saw a gap, I followed it, I jumped away and managed to make a gap. Sunday’s Liège is a race I like, where I have already won and where we will go on full steam, but more calm thanks to today’s victory”.


Photo: PelotonPhotos.com

3rd place finish for Kwiatkowski an important milestone

“I’m happy because Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, as a team, did a perfect race,” Kwiatkowski said. “My teammates have been working hard for me and I have to thank them. I actually didn’t make any mistakes on the final climb. I think I did it smart on the Mur de Huy. I started in front, on the bottom.”

“Then I took my own speed, which was much better than last year because I lost a few positions on the two corners at about 450 meters to go. Today, I took my own speed and then sped up before the final. This final is also about tactics and I think I did that part correctly. But I just didn’t have enough legs to just react to Valverde and Dan Martin”.


Photo:OPQS/Tim de Waele

“I’m actually happy considering this, I am getting better step-by-step. For sure I will start at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. In the past I didn’t make any big results. I hope, with the way I have prepared, I can be in good form for that race as well. I think the Ardennes Classics was the first really big goal for the first part of the season. I’m excited about what I did at Amstel and what I did today, and think I can carry my good legs to the last of the three races this week. I’m satisfied I’m making improvements. I’m 23, I hope I can keep improving until I’m 30 or something. I’m trying to improve day-by-day.”

1 VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team 04:36:45
2 MARTIN Daniel Garmin Sharp 00:03
3 KWIATKOWSKI Michal Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 00:04
4 MOLLEMA Bauke Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
5 SLAGTER Tom-Jelte Garmin Sharp 00:06
6 VANENDERT Jelle Lotto Belisol
7 ALBASINI Michael Orica GreenEDGE 00:08
8 KREUZIGER Roman Tinkoff-Saxo
9 MORENO Daniel Team Katusha 00:11
10 GILBERT Philippe BMC Racing Team 00:15
11 ARREDONDO MORENO Julián David Trek Factory Racing 00:17
12 POELS Wout Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 00:19
13 MARTENS Paul Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 00:23
14 NIBALI Vincenzo Astana Pro Team 00:24
15 FRANK Mathias IAM Cycling 00:26
16 CLARKE Simon Orica GreenEDGE 00:28
17 ULISSI Diego Lampre-Merida
18 MOLARD Rudy Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
19 FUGLSANG Jakob Astana Pro Team
20 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen Lotto Belisol
34 SáNCHEZ Samuel BMC Racing Team
46 ROY Jérémy FDJ.fr
53 COSTA Rui Lampre-Merida 01:44
56 SCHLECK Fränk Trek Factory Racing
69 CUNEGO Damiano Lampre-Merida 04:04
70 RODRIGUEZ Joaquim Team Katusha 04:06
78 YATES Simon Orica GreenEDGE
97 YATES Adam Orica GreenEDGE




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