La Fleche Wallonne: Valverde wins on the Mur de Huy

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

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team4:43:57
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 1 - Cell 2
3Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 2 - Cell 2
4Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky0:00:04
5Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:00:05
6Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 6 - Cell 2
8Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - MeridaRow 7 - Cell 2
9Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 8 - Cell 2
10Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - MeridaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 11 - Cell 2
13Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 12 - Cell 2
14Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:00:12
15Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:14
16Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 15 - Cell 2
17Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 16 - Cell 2
18Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:17
19Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 18 - Cell 2
20Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:00:23
22Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 21 - Cell 2
23Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 22 - Cell 2
24Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data0:00:27
25Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:00:29
26Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - MeridaRow 25 - Cell 2
27Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 26 - Cell 2
28Joaquim Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha0:00:32
29Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling0:00:34
30Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Huub Duijn (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 32 - Cell 2
34Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 33 - Cell 2
35Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo0:00:40
36Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 35 - Cell 2
37Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:43
38Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Fortuneo - Vital Concept0:00:46
39Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 38 - Cell 2
40Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 39 - Cell 2
41Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff Team0:00:50
42Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:52
43Julien El Farès (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 42 - Cell 2
44Jérémy Maison (Fra) FDJ0:00:55
45Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro TeamRow 44 - Cell 2
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 MondialeRow 51 - Cell 2
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-StepRow 57 - Cell 2
59Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 58 - Cell 2
60Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data0:02:10
61Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling0:02:13
62Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 61 - Cell 2
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-JumboRow 66 - Cell 2
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 DataRow 70 - Cell 2
72Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJRow 71 - Cell 2
73Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 72 - Cell 2
74Sebastian Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 73 - Cell 2
75Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM CyclingRow 74 - Cell 2
76Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 75 - Cell 2
77Nathan Brown (USA) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 76 - Cell 2
78Christian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 77 - Cell 2
79Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 78 - Cell 2
80Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 79 - Cell 2
81Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 80 - Cell 2
82Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 81 - Cell 2
83Clement Chevrier (Fra) IAM CyclingRow 82 - Cell 2
84Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 83 - Cell 2
85Gaetan Bille (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 84 - Cell 2
86Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
87Oliver Zaugg (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 86 - Cell 2
88Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team KatushaRow 87 - Cell 2
89Yury Trofimov (Rus) Tinkoff TeamRow 88 - Cell 2
90Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:03:34
91Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 90 - Cell 2
92Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 91 - Cell 2
93Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff TeamRow 92 - Cell 2
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 KatushaRow 98 - Cell 2
100Alberto Losada (Spa) Team KatushaRow 99 - Cell 2
101Tiago Machado (Por) Team KatushaRow 100 - Cell 2
102Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Team KatushaRow 101 - Cell 2
103Chad Haga (USA) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 102 - Cell 2
104Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto SoudalRow 103 - Cell 2
105Ben Swift (GBr) Team SkyRow 104 - Cell 2
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 TeamRow 109 - Cell 2
111Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre - MeridaRow 110 - Cell 2
112Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky0:06:08
113Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 112 - Cell 2
114Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 113 - Cell 2
115Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team SkyRow 114 - Cell 2
116Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 115 - Cell 2
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 CyclingRow 120 - Cell 2
122Romain Combaud (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM0:08:02
123Benjamin King (USA) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 122 - Cell 2
124Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) FDJRow 123 - Cell 2
125Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJRow 124 - Cell 2
126Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team KatushaRow 125 - Cell 2
127Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension DataRow 126 - Cell 2
128Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 127 - Cell 2
129Michael Reihs (Den) Stölting Service GroupRow 128 - Cell 2
130Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 129 - Cell 2
131Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 130 - Cell 2
132Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff TeamRow 131 - Cell 2
133Julien Loubet (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 132 - Cell 2
134Stefan Kung (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 133 - Cell 2
135Sander Armée (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 134 - Cell 2
136Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 135 - Cell 2
137Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 136 - Cell 2
138Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-SegafredoRow 137 - Cell 2
139Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 138 - Cell 2
140Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 139 - Cell 2
141Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek-SegafredoRow 140 - Cell 2
142Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Trek-SegafredoRow 141 - Cell 2
143Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team0:08:10
144Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 143 - Cell 2
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 - BaloiseRow 149 - Cell 2
151Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 150 - Cell 2
152Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 151 - Cell 2
153Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 152 - Cell 2
154Omar Fraile (Spa) Dimension DataRow 153 - Cell 2
155Leonardo Duque (Col) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 154 - Cell 2
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 SkyRow 158 - Cell 2
160Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM CyclingRow 159 - Cell 2
161Koen Bouwman (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 160 - Cell 2
162Christian Mager (Ger) Stölting Service Group0:11:47
DNFQuentin Pacher (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 162 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Diaz (Arg) Delko Marseille Provence KTMRow 163 - Cell 2
DNFThomas Koep (Ger) Stölting Service GroupRow 164 - Cell 2
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Stölting Service GroupRow 165 - Cell 2
DNFGerald Ciolek (Ger) Stölting Service GroupRow 166 - Cell 2
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 167 - Cell 2
DNFDries Van Gestel (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 168 - Cell 2
DNFYoucef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension DataRow 169 - Cell 2
DNFAntwan Tolhoek (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 170 - Cell 2
DNFKai Reus (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 171 - Cell 2
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 172 - Cell 2
DNFCaleb Fairly (USA) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 173 - Cell 2
DNFAnthony Roux (Fra) FDJRow 174 - Cell 2
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJRow 175 - Cell 2
DNFHaimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 176 - Cell 2
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 177 - Cell 2
DNFFrank Schleck (Lux) Trek-SegafredoRow 178 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 179 - Cell 2
DNFMarco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 180 - Cell 2
DNFMark Mcnally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 181 - Cell 2
DNFEvgeny Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff TeamRow 182 - Cell 2
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro TeamRow 183 - Cell 2
DNFDario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 184 - Cell 2
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Team SkyRow 185 - Cell 2
DNFJens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 186 - Cell 2
DNFChristophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 187 - Cell 2
DNFAdam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 188 - Cell 2
DNSSergio Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 189 - Cell 2


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