La Fleche Wallonne: Valverde wins on the Mur de Huy

Alaphilippe second and Martin third

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the 80th edition of La Fleche Wallonne with yet another perfectly timed late surge on the final part of the Mur de Huy. Thanks to his victory, Valverde became the only rider to win the Ardennes Classic four times.

The veteran Spaniard waited before making his move and then powered past Dan Martin and Martin's Etixx-QuickStep teammate Julian Alaphilippe. The Frenchman could only follow Valverde home, with Martin taking third place. Wout Poels (Team Sky) was fourth, at four seconds, with Amstel Gold Race winner Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) taking fifth.

Valverde only made his move in the final 500 metres of the race but his Movistar tam played a huge role in controlling the earlier attacks and a late move that included Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) and then Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal). He ensured he was perfectly placed on the Mur and then paced his effort as the gradient steepened and began to hurt. He wisely followed Dan Martin when the Irishman accelerated and then made his own move when Martin faded and the gradient eased. His previous victories and placings had clearly taught him the secrets of winning Fleche Wallonne.

Valverde dedicated his victory to his family and children but also to his teammates who have suffered nasty crashes in the first part of the season.

Cummings goes on the attack

The 80th edition of Fleche Wallonne started under blue skies, with the riders enjoying the warm conditions as they lined up in Marche-en-Famenne for the start of the 196km WorldTour race. 199 riders rolled out; with only Sergio Henao (Team Sky) missing after he was suspended by the British team after the UCI confirmed it has again opened an investigation into his Biological Passport blood values.

There were several attacks in the first hour but the groups that formed were too big for the peloton’s liking and so they were quickly pulled back.

The riders stayed together a while after a first fast hour, then Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) kicked off the attacks again.

He was joined by eight other riders and then Mads Pedersen (Stölting Service Group) made a huge effort to get across and so create the 10-rider move of the race. Also there were Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM Cycling), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Pedersen and Quentin Pacher (Delko Marseille Provence KTM).

The 10 were let go by the peloton and so quickly opened a lead of 3:30 after the early cotes of the race and the opening 100km of racing.

Bouwman lead the break up the Mur de Huy the first time through the finish, with the huge crowds cheering on the riders. Valverde was well placed in the peloton but other riders were suffering, including Dario Cataldo (Astana), who quit the race.

As the women fought for victory on the Mur de Huy, the men covered other cotes out in the countryside. The breakaway riders worked smoothly but their lead began to fall gradually as the peloton upped their chase.

The twisting roads were hurting, however, and riders continued to be dropped. Crashes also caused problems. With 41km to go Frank Schleck (Trek-Segafredo) went down and was unable to get up. He could only hold his right arm in pain and was diagnosed with a suspected fractured collarbone. The veteran Luxembourg rider’s Ardennes hopes were over in an instant.

Upfront the break also fell apart, with four riders being distanced. It was time for the second climb of the Mur de Huy and Dilier skipped clear, with Cummings going after him. They formed the final hopes of the break but the peloton was chasing, with Movistar and Katusha doing much of the work for Rodriguez and Valverde.

Cummings opted to drop Dilier over the top and made a huge effort alone but was eventually swept up with 18km remaining. It was time for the finale of the race.

Two cotes in a tough finale

The final 16km of the modern Fleche Wallonne route includes some twisting country roads and the Côte d'Ereffe and Côte de Cherave – a 1.3km climb at 8 per cent, which comes with just six kilometres before the Mur de Huy. The Côte d'Ereffe sparked an attack from Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep). He was joined by Georg Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) and Jon Izagirre (Movistar). They opened a gap over the top of the d’Ereffe and stayed away over the Côte de Cherave, where Wellens surged across to them. The attack cracked several expected contenders including Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep).

Other riders tried to jump across, including Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), but they were pulled back by the peloton, with Tinkoff doing much of the chase.

Wellens tried hard to drive the attack but both Izagirre and Jungels were riding for their team leaders and the move fizzled out along the river, two kilometres before the rider hit the Mur de Huy. Yet again, the 1.3km, 9.6 per cent climb decided the winner and gave Valverde a place in the history books.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team4:43:57 
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step  
3Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step  
4Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky0:00:04 
5Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:00:05 
6Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team  
7Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge  
8Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
9Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin  
10Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida  
11Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team  
12Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
13Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
14Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:00:12 
15Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:14 
16Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
17Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
18Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:17 
19Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
20Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
21Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:00:23 
22Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
23Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
24Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data0:00:27 
25Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:00:29 
26Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida  
27Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
28Joaquim Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha0:00:32 
29Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling0:00:34 
30Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
31Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Astana Pro Team  
32Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
33Huub Duijn (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
34Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
35Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo0:00:40 
36Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
37Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:43 
38Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Fortuneo - Vital Concept0:00:46 
39Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
40Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
41Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff Team0:00:50 
42Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:52 
43Julien El Farès (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM  
44Jérémy Maison (Fra) FDJ0:00:55 
45Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
46Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:01:01 
47Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal0:01:14 
48Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:01:22 
49Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:01:27 
50Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin0:01:32 
51Mickaël Chérel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:39 
52Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
53Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - Merida0:01:42 
54Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Stölting Service Group0:01:54 
55Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credit0:02:02 
56Fredrik Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Alpecin0:02:04 
57Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:02:06 
58Laurens De Plus (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
59Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
60Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data0:02:10 
61Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling0:02:13 
62Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
63Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:02:17 
64Jon Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team0:02:25 
65Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:02:33 
66Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step0:03:01 
67Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
68David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step0:03:16 
69Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:03:23 
70Michel Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:03:30 
71Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension Data  
72Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ  
73Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling  
74Sebastian Henao (Col) Team Sky  
75Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling  
76Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
77Nathan Brown (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
78Christian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdge  
79Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
80Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
81Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
82Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
83Clement Chevrier (Fra) IAM Cycling  
84Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step  
85Gaetan Bille (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
86Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
87Oliver Zaugg (Swi) IAM Cycling  
88Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team Katusha  
89Yury Trofimov (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
90Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:03:34 
91Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
92Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
93Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff Team  
94Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ0:04:14 
95Lawrence Warbasse (USA) IAM Cycling0:04:16 
96Michael Valgren (Den) Tinkoff Team0:04:56 
97Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale0:05:00 
98Ivan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff Team0:05:11 
99Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Team Katusha  
100Alberto Losada (Spa) Team Katusha  
101Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha  
102Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Team Katusha  
103Chad Haga (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin  
104Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal  
105Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky  
106Rémy Di Grégorio (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM0:05:22 
107Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:05:25 
108Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:05:54 
109Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team0:05:58 
110Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team  
111Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre - Merida  
112Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky0:06:08 
113Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
114Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
115Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
116Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
117Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge0:06:29 
118Mario Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida0:06:58 
119Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:07:00 
120Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data0:07:08 
121Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
122Romain Combaud (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM0:08:02 
123Benjamin King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
124Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) FDJ  
125Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ  
126Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha  
127Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension Data  
128Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
129Michael Reihs (Den) Stölting Service Group  
130Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
131Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
132Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
133Julien Loubet (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
134Stefan Kung (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
135Sander Armée (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
136Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
137Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
138Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo  
139Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
140Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
141Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek-Segafredo  
142Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Trek-Segafredo  
143Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team0:08:10 
144Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
145Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:08:12 
146Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre - Merida0:08:15 
147Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:08:22 
148Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:10:54 
149Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team Katusha0:11:19 
150Tim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
151Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
152Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
153Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
154Omar Fraile (Spa) Dimension Data  
155Leonardo Duque (Col) Delko Marseille Provence KTM  
156Yannick Martinez (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM0:11:23 
157Reinier Honig (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:11:28 
158Delio Fernández Cruz (Spa) Delko Marseille Provence KTM0:11:41 
159Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky  
160Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM Cycling  
161Koen Bouwman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
162Christian Mager (Ger) Stölting Service Group0:11:47 
DNFQuentin Pacher (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM  
DNFDaniel Diaz (Arg) Delko Marseille Provence KTM  
DNFThomas Koep (Ger) Stölting Service Group  
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Stölting Service Group  
DNFGerald Ciolek (Ger) Stölting Service Group  
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFDries Van Gestel (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFYoucef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data  
DNFAntwan Tolhoek (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFKai Reus (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFCaleb Fairly (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFAnthony Roux (Fra) FDJ  
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJ  
DNFHaimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFFrank Schleck (Lux) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFMarco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFMark Mcnally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFEvgeny Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky  
DNFJens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFChristophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFAdam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNSSergio Henao (Col) Team Sky  

 

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