Pogacar ready for Liège-Bastogne-Liège defence despite fading on the Mur de Huy

Tadej Pogacar at the start of Fleche Wallonne
Tadej Pogacar at the start of Fleche Wallonne (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Tadej Pogačar came into La Flèche Wallonne among the top favourites for glory on the Mur de Huy, despite his previous best finish being ninth place two years ago.

In the end, the Slovenian didn't improve on that result and ended the race in 12th place. He had been among the top five men heading into the final 250 metres of the steep 1.3km climb that decides La Flèche Wallonne but faded heading around the final bend amid surges by the podium trio of Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe).

The UAE Team Emirates leader said after the race that he didn't see his finish as a weakness, adding that the somewhat disappointing result wouldn't affect his run-up to the defence of his Liège-Bastogne-Liège title on Sunday.

"I don't see this as a weakness or anything," he said. "It's just a one-day race. It happens. Sometimes you cannot do your best day and sometimes you can do really good. I don't see it as any weakness.

"When you think about it, two years ago I was also ninth, a similar finish style like this year. Then in the end in Liège, I was in the front group. So, I'm fully motivated for Sunday."

Pogačar said that he had pushed himself to the limit on the closing climb of the 202km race. Earlier in the day, his UAE Team Emirates squad had been among the teams setting the pace in the peloton, a signal of intent for what was to come in Huy, but despite his effort, he couldn't add to his 37 career victories.

His result marks the first time he's finished outside the top 10 of a race since the Giro dell'Emilia last October, a remarkable run that has seen him pick up eight victories.

Next, he'll turn his attention to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he beat world champion Julian Alaphilippe at the line last year.

"In the end, it's a hard race, a hard final, and I did my best," he said of Flèche. "I pushed myself to the limit. I came to the front row. I was quite excited that I was here, I could do it. Then the lactic [acid] hit me and I just barely came to the finish, but it's all good.

"I really like the race. It's a nice race and really hard. They changed the course a bit this year and it was really tough. I'm more looking forward to Sunday."

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Daniel Ostanek
Production editor

Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.


As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.