Valverde triumphs again, eight years after

Stage summary23.04.2014The race- Bastogne / Huy

Already a winner in 2006, Alejandro Valverde triumphed again at the top of the Mur de Huy. The Spaniard claims a second Fleche Wallonne beating Daniel Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski to the line. Since his last triumph, he had entered the Top 10 of the event on three occasions. Valverde made the best of his climbing abilities and the hard work of his Movistar squad throughout the day. A team that first did the necessary to catch the three escapees of the day, before helping their leader capture a fine success.

First fright early on

The 198 riders of the 78th edition of the Fleche Wallonne took off under a bright sun and clear skies from the city of Bastogne, hosting the start of the event for the very first time. Bastogne that the riders will visit again next Sunday during the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The race started with a bang as several riders including title-holder Daniel Moreno (KAT) were caught in a crash after only 5kms. A fright and a potential blow for Katusha who had lost Joaquim Rodriguez last weekend on the Amstel Gold Race, already on a crash.

Three in command

The first serious move of the day occurred after 20kms when three men managed to break away from the pack. Ramunas Navardauskas (GRS) was the first to attack, taking with him Preben Van Heche (TSV) and Jonathan Clarke (UHC). While the pack wasn't too concerned by the front men, the escapees covered an impressive distance of 49.4kms during the first hour of racing and enjoyed a maximum lead of 8'45 at km 50. From then on riders from teams Katusha and BMC moved to the front of the pack and started chasing.

Chasing hard

At the top of the first of three climbs up the Mur de Huy, the gap had dropped down to 5'50. Men from Movistar and Lotto-Bellisol then joined the chase and the gap dropped seriously with just over 40kms to go. The first man to struggle and be dropped was Australian Clarke who was eventually caught by the pack with 38kms to go.

Vain attempts

Pierre Rolland (EUC) and Jan Bakelants (OPQ) were then the first of the top contenders to give it a go on a counter-attack going up the Côte d'Ahin, but they were immediately chased and caught. On the second climb up the Mur de Huy, it was Cyril Gautier's turn to try his luck. He managed to make it clear from the pack at the top while the escapees still enjoyed a 30” lead. But Gautier's attempt turned out to be vain.

Over for escapees

After an impressive effort, there wasn't much the front two riders could do against the chasing pack and the likes of Kolobnev (KAT) and Herrada (MOV) working hard for their leaders. They were finally caught with 12kms to go, after having spent 167kms in the lead.

No stopping Movistar

With 7kms to go, another Frenchman took off. Jeremy Roy indeed enjoyed a slim 10” advantage 5kms from the line but he too was gobbled up by a pack led by Katusha. Like on the previous years the decision would be made on the final climb up the Mur de Huy. After a first attempt by Romain Bardet in the first metres of the ascent, the favourites powered to the front with the likes of Vanendert and Kwitakowski leading the way. In the last 200m, Alejandro Valverde made his decisive effort and flew triumphantly to the line beating last year's winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Daniel Martin (GRS) and rising star Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQ).

Third win this season for Valverde

The Spaniard wins the event for the second time after his victory in 2006. Valverde adds a third success to his 2014 season, having already claimed the Tour of Murcia and the Tour of Andalusia. With Amstel Gold Race winner Pjhilippe Gilbert, all eyes will be on the soon to be 34-year-old Valverde who would love to celebrate his birthday, on Friday, with a victory on the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The race in pictures


© A.S.O.


The race Bastogne / Huy

route key moments

Honours list 2014


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