Valverde wins La Fleche Wallonne 2015

Alaphilippe, Albasini round out podium

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) defended his La Flèche Wallonne title with a gutsy performance on the Mur de Huy. The Spaniard led from the front on the final climb and held off the challenges from Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) and Michael Albasini (Orica GreenEdge) to win by a clear margin.

The win marked the Spaniard's third win the race and came after Movistar reeled in a late attack from Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), who broke clear on the penultimate climb of the Côte de Cherave, and survived into the final 500 metres.

Valverde used the catch of Wellens as the moment to confidently move to the front of the strung out group of favourites, and as the gradient began to bite world champion and pre-race favourite Michał Kwiatkowski started to lose ground.

The Katusha pairing of Dani Moreno and Joaquim Rodriguez desperately tried to hang onto Valverde’s coattails but they were too far back to respond, with the only the well-placed Albasini and surprise runner-up Alaphilippe able to muster any form of a challenge.

The Frenchman was too good for Albasini but by the time Valverde looked back he was clear of the rest and had plenty of time to savour another La Flèche Wallonne victory.

The race was, however, marred by series of crashes with former winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) forced to abandon. There were other falls for Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and former Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Sky).

The addition of the Côte de Cherave, coming just before the Mur de Huy, played a part in reducing the depth of the field before the final climb of the Mur but Movistar and Valverde were never troubled, blending a mix of attack and defence that saw Giovanni Visconti form a dangerous late counter attack with Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) before the last two climbs.

Attacks from Vincenzo Nibali, Tejay van Garderen and Wellens soon followed but Movistar – with help from Lampe Merida, who were working for Rui Costa – neutralized anything that attempted to establish a lead.

How it unfolded

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Mike Teunissen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty - Groupe Gobert), Reinier Honig (Team Roompot), Daniele Ratto (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport) formed the day’s early break, jumping clear inside the opening 10 kilometres and establishing a healthy eight-minute lead over the peloton.

In near-perfect conditions the peloton eased into the task of organising a chase with Katusha and Movistar the first to oblige with turns on the front. Their efforts were merely to keep the break in check, rather than prepare an organised and concerted chase as up ahead De Gendt used his experience to set a steady pace on the opening climbs.

As the peloton approached the Mur de Huy for the first time Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) crossed wheels with Machado. The Irishman gingerly returned to his feet, and eventually the bunch, but his challenge was effectively over.

Team Sky made their presence at the front felt with British road champion Peter Kennaugh setting the pace for the peloton and the gap the break slipping to a more manageable five minutes.

Honig and Teunissen were unceremoniously dropped from the break soon after but the five remaining riders pressed on as Katusha, Etixx-QuickStep and Movistar emerged as the teams willing to control a more determined chase.

Disaster struck for Gilbert, when like Martin, he was taken down in another avoidable fall – the peloton visibly bunching together with parked cars either side of the road. Lars Petter Nordhaug, Wouter Poels (Sky), Ben King (Garmin-Cannondale), Amael Moinard (BMC) and Anthony Roux (FDJ) were caught in the next fall.

Up ahead, the five remaining leaders started the Mur’s second ascent with just a 50-second buffer on a rampaging peloton and by the time they crested the summit only Thomas De Gendt and Jerome Baugnies remained clear.

Visconti and Luis Leon Sanchez took the opportunity to drift clear of the bunch and latch onto the two leaders as they powered down the descent and the newly formed group established a twenty-second lead. With Movistar and Astana taking a breather, it fell to Katusha and Etixx to control the peloton.

On the slopes of the Ereffe, Tejay van Garderen accelerated clear but his efforts were in vain – unable to catch the leaders, he was swallowed up before the penultimate climb – the race’s new addition of the Côte de Cherave.

Visconti and Sanchez started the ascent with a slender lead and it was Nibali was attacked from the bunch first. He simply brought the pack closer to the leaders and provided Wellens with the platform to hit the peloton at the right moment.

Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) tried to give chase but the Italian was unable to keep Wellens in his sights as the Lotto Soudal rider led into the foot of the Mur.

The lead was no more than 15 seconds but any hope of a Lotto win were dashed as the gradient rose. Wellens’ fluidity in pedal stroke was instantly lost, as Lampre and Movistar gathered at the front of the peloton.

 

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team5:08:22 
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step  
3Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge  
4Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha  
5Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha  
6Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:04 
7Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky  
8Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team  
9Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
10Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
11Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo0:00:08 
12Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:10 
13Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
14Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar0:00:13 
15Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
16Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement0:00:16 
17Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling  
18Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
19Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing0:00:19 
20Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
21Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
22Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ.fr  
23Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:22 
24Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling0:00:23 
25Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
26Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin  
27Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky  
28Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida0:00:28 
29Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:00:30 
30Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing0:00:36 
31Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
32Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff-Saxo  
33Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:38 
34Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:42 
35Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:00:43 
36Michel Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot0:00:51 
37Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:53 
38Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team  
39Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka0:00:57 
40Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:09 
41Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:01:16 
42Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida0:01:19 
43Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:01:32 
44Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:37 
45Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge0:01:39 
46Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha0:01:47 
47Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:01:54 
48Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
49Francis De Greef (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
50Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
51Huub Duijn (Ned) Team Roompot  
52Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:02:00 
53Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team0:02:01 
54Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:02:02 
55Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement0:02:05 
56Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale  
57Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
58Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
59Larry Warbasse (USA) IAM Cycling  
60Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre-Merida  
61Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
62Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge  
63Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
64Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka0:02:12 
65Marc De Maar (Ned) Team Roompot  
66Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:02:16 
67Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar  
68Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
69Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka0:02:19 
70Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Team Roompot  
71Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement0:02:22 
72Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN - Qhubeka0:02:27 
73Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
74Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
75José Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team0:02:43 
76Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team  
77Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team Katusha  
78Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:02:50 
79Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team0:02:56 
80Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha0:03:29 
81Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo0:03:33 
82Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo  
83Yannick Eijssen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
84Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo0:03:45 
85Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Team Roompot0:03:58 
86Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:04:03 
87Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:04:46 
88Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr0:04:49 
89Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale0:05:44 
90Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:05:47 
91Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
92Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step  
93Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky  
94Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge0:05:50 
95Caleb Fairly (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin  
96Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ.fr0:05:53 
97Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:06:24 
98Jose Rodolfo Serpa (Col) Lampre-Merida  
99Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:07:11 
100Michal Golas (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step  
101Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:19 
102Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:07:59 
103Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team  
104Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:08:03 
105Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Team Katusha  
106Maxime Bouet (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step  
107Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
108Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar  
109Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
110Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - Qhubeka0:08:08 
111Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
112Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:08:17 
113Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing0:08:22 
114Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:08:46 
115Mike Terpstra (Ned) Team Roompot0:09:10 
116Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement0:09:40 
117Brice Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
118Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
119Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
120Patrick Schelling (Swi) IAM Cycling  
121Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:09:52 
122Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:10:57 
123Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky0:12:19 
124Angelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar0:13:18 
125Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin0:13:20 
126Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory Racing  
127Bryan Nauleau (Fra) Team Europcar0:13:28 
128Songezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka0:13:42 
129Davide Frattini (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling0:13:51 
130Daniele Ratto (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling0:14:27 
131Frederico Zurlo (Ita) UnitedHealthcare  
132Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:17:46 
133Reinier Honig (Ned) Team Roompot0:18:02 
DNFImanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFRamunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMatej Mohoric (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFBenjamin King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFRein Taaramae (Est) Astana Pro Team  
DNFPhilip Deignan (Irl) Team Sky  
DNFDaniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFDmitrii Kozonchuk (Rus) Team Katusha  
DNFLars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky  
DNFWouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky  
DNFPhilippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
DNFRory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team  
DNFAmaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team  
DNFPeter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFRomain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFLaurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFKévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFAnthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFJussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ.fr  
DNFClement Chevrier (Fra) IAM Cycling  
DNFJonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFPirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFJarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling  
DNFArthur Van Overberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFJérôme Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFNicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFCheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFClément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFSimone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFBoris Dron (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFAndreas Stauff (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFPierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement  
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Team Roompot  
DNFAlessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
DNFLucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
DNFChristopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling  
DNFYohan Bagot (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFPerrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFEvgeny Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFIvan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFMichael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFJulian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFBob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFCalvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFMatteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFSébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFMatteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFJelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFPim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal  
DNFOlivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFRomain Guillemois (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFFredrik Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFBertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFNick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFSimon Clarke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  

 

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