Fleche Wallonne – Alaphilippe Makes it Two

 Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to take consecutive wins atop Mur de Huy, after finishing off the team’s brilliant work and adding to wins at Milan San Remo and Strade Bianche

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Fleche Wallonne – Alaphilippe Makes it Two

Flèche Wallonne: Julian Alaphilippe imperious on the Mur de Huy whilst Anna van der Breggen wins Fleche Wallonne for the fifth time.

Pictures: PelotonPhotos


Julian Alaphilippe’s phenomenal season continued this Wednesday in Belgium, where the 26-year-old again conquered Flèche Wallonne, adding the one-day race to his impressive haul of 2019 victories, which also includes Milano-Sanremo, Strade Bianche, as well as stages at the Vuelta a San Juan, Tour Colombia, Tirreno-Adriatico and Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

“Last year, I notched up my first big victory here, so being able to repeat that success gives me a lot of joy, but it tastes differently, because this edition was far more difficult. I am extremely proud of our team, who rode a perfect race, protected me from kilometer zero, chased down all the moves and always kept me in position. Being able to repay their hard work makes me very happy”, said the fourth rider in history to win Milano-Sanremo and Flèche Wallonne in the same season.

Eleven climbs peppered the 83rd Flèche Wallonne, whose 195.5km-long course was regarded by many as the toughest in recent memory. However, this didn’t deter Deceuninck – Quick-Step, as the team kept the five-man breakaway on a leash, pilling on the pressure in the crosswinds, infiltrating in the moves launched inside the final hour and bringing Julian back into the pack following a flat. Then, on Côte d’Ereffe and Côte de Cherave, Dries Devenyns and Enric Mas maintained a high tempo to prevent attacks and made sure the peloton would arrive as one at the bottom of Mur de Huy.

The fearsome climb (1300 meters, 9.6%), which has been used as finish venue of the race since the ‘80s, making for one of the most spectacular finales in pro cycling, awaited the reduced bunch, who were greeted with a strong headwind, meaning that no early moves were launched until 500 meters to go, when Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) rode clear of the field.

A short glance over the shoulder convinced Julian to up the pace on the steep gradients of the Chemin des Chapelles and put some daylight between him and the others, before linking up with the Dane, whose wheel he stayed in until 120 meters to go, when thanks to another trademark acceleration, Alaphilippe powered past his opponent and earned Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 25th victory of the year.

“I can’t say there was any pressure on me today, but what’s certain is that all eyes were on me, and you could see several attempts coming from riders who tried to go clear before the Mur de Huy, but my team did a splendid job and controlled everything”, said the third reigning Tour de France KOM champion to triumph at Flèche Wallonne. “The final 300 meters of the race were really hard, due to the headwind on the Mur, but I left it late and timed my acceleration perfectly. As I said, it was tough, and that’s why this victory gives me not just great satisfaction, but also a huge motivation for Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”
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Jakob Fuglsang (2nd): “This time I’m more happy with my podium than after the Amstel Gold Race, as La Flèche Wallonne normally doesn’t suit me. It was a very nervous day with a lot of wind and crashes. We had the tactic that I had to try to stay as calm as possible until the final climb and to give it a try there. Not trying it in the final hundred meters, but right from halfway the climb to put the more explosive guys under pressure.”

“That kind of succeeded, only thing was that Julian Alaphilippe couldn’t be stopped. When he passed me I thought I could still overtake him before the finish, but I had nothing left for the final meters. I want to thank my teammates for their great work today, but also our sponsors like Samruk who’s making this possible. I gave it all today and for this kind of finish, I can be happy with this result. It just shows that my shape is super good, that I can finish like this in a race that normally doesn’t suit me. I’m happy for that and I look forward to Sunday, hopefully, that will be another nice race for us”

Diego Ulissi (3rd): “Today I was very good,” said Ulissi, “I moved on the last lap as planned, but then I saw that behind, they didn’t let us go free. When they brought me back, as our leader Daniel Martin was no longer in the game, I tried to save as much energy as possible and take on the last climb the best I could. I must say that I made a great final climb, very consistent. I was also a little surprised because the last 200 metres have always been a bit impossible for me, but not this time. We also moved very well as a team, first with Henao in the breakaway of the first lap, and then with Rui Costa, who tried to help me in the final. On Sunday, we have Liège-Bastogne-Liège, one of my favourite races. I head there with a good physical condition. We must continue like this!”

Bjorg Lambrecht (4th): “The strong winds caused a lot of nervousness in the peloton. That’s not my strongest suit and already after a few dozen kilometres, I ended up in a second group. For a while, I feared for the rest of my race. The legs did not feel great at first, maybe I still had to recover from the efforts on Sunday. As the race progressed, I felt better and better and on the second ascent of the Mur, I set the pace myself to not get in trouble during the part after the climb, where the wind could play its role. Meanwhile, the first group was reduced to around forty riders and then, it was mainly about choosing the best possible position.”

“All three of us wanted to start the Mur de Huy in the best possible spot. I began the climb in around tenth position but I was able to move up on the first steep slopes. Then, I had to catch my breath for a moment, but I knew that I could still accelerate in the final 150 metres. Of course, I am very satisfied with this fourth place. You always want to be on the podium but I can’t be disappointed with a fifth place in the Brabantse Pijl, a sixth in Amstel Gold Race and a fourth in Flèche Wallonne.”

“It is a fantastic feeling to take the next step. I am already looking forward to the future, in which these races will always be a main goal. Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday is again another kind of Classic. The predicted weather conditions won’t be to my advantage, contrary to for example Tim Wellens. For now, just let us enjoy this moment and then we’ll see what Sunday brings.”

Maximilian Schachmann: (5th): “We rode pretty aggressively throughout the day and we were always present in the front, in many different groups. Patrick and I entered the final climb on Mur de Huy in the front but it was very chaotic at the bottom. I was able to find a gap and started my sprint in the final metres.”

Patrick Konrad (6th)”I tried not to repeat the same mistake I did last year when I started the final climb too hard. I kept my own pace in the first part and then in the final 300 metres I went full speed. I was a little bit better than last year and I am really proud of the team. I think we all did a good job, it was a successful day and we will try again on Sunday.”

Michael Matthews (8th): “It was a really hard day out with tough racing from the middle of the race. The crosswinds on the exposed sections made it really fast and nervous in the peloton, meaning a tougher day out. On the final climb of the Mur de Huy I got blocked a couple of times and did what I could to finish in eighth place.”

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1. Julian Alaphilippe, Deceuninck – Quick Step 4.55.14
2. Jakob Fuglsang, Denmark Astana Pro Team
3. Diego Ulissi, UAE Team Emirates 06″
4. Bjorg Lambrecht, Lotto – Soudal 08″
5. Maximilian Schachmann, Bora – Hansgrohe 08″
6. Bauke Mollema, Trek – Segafredo 08″
7. Patrick Konrad, Bora – Hansgrohe 08″
8. Michael Matthews, Team Sunweb 08″
9. Jelle Vanendert, Lotto – Soudal 11″
10. Enrico Gasparotto, Team Dimension Data 11″

11. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar Team 11″
13. Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale 11″
14. Dylan Teuns, Bahrain – Merida 11″
16. Michal Kwiatkowski, Team Sky 11″
17. Tim Wellens, Lotto – Soudal 15″
22. Wout Poels, Team Sky 30″
23. Simon Clarke, EF Education First 36″

Anna van der Breggen wins Fleche Wallonne for the fifth time.

In a strong race where only the top favorites started the final climb of the Mure de Huy, Anna van der Breggen consolidated the pace together with Annika Langvad and Annemiek van Vleuten.

Van Vleuten was the only rider who could stay in the wheel of Van der Breggen and finished 1 second behind the worldchampion. Annika Langvad rewarded herself after a strong Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne with a third place.

“It was an amazing day for the team. It was so cool to see Anna take the win. I could see that she had really good legs and that she got this one. I hanged in there to try and take second place. In the end my legs just died with 50 meters to go, however very happy with third”, says Annika Langvad.

1. Anna van der Breggen Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 3.17.04
2. Annemiek van Vleuten Mitchelton – Scott 01″
3. Annika Langvad Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 04″
4. Marianne Vos CCC-Liv 14″
5. Demi Vollering Parkhotel Valkenburg 16″
6. Katarzyna Niewiadoma Canyon SRAM Racing 17″
7. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio CCC-Liv 20″
8. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig Bigla 23″
9. Brodie Chapman Team TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank 26″
10. Margarita Victoria Garcia Canellas Movistar Women’s Team 33″

23. Lizzie Deignan Trek – Segafredo Women 1′ 09″
46. Sophie Wright Bigla 2′ 26″
57. Danielle Christmas Lotto – Soudal Ladies 4′ 34″
68. Elizabeth Banks Bigla 8′ 58″
75. Hannah Barnes Canyon SRAM Racing 9′ 47″


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