Teuns upsets Valverde’s last hurrah
April 20 th 2022 - 16:35
Belgian ‘puncheur’ Dylan Teuns won the Flèche Wallonne by timing his effort perfectly to be the quickest up the Mur de Huy, which once again was crucial and definitive on the first of the two Ardennes classics.
The Bahrain Victorious rider defeated Movistar Team’s Alejandro Valverde, who on his final appearance on this race was not able to extend his record victory count from five to six. Third in contention was Bora-Hansgrohe’s Alexander Vlasov, with current World Champion Julian Alaphilippe in fourth place and Ineos Grenadiers’ Daniel Martínez in fifth. It’s the first time a Belgian rider wins the Flèche Wallonne since Philippe Gilbert’s victory in 2011.
173 riders took the start on the 86th edition of the Flèche Wallonne at 11:32 as there were two non-starters, Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Andreas Kron (Lotto-Soudal), both sick. Morten Hulgaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies) and Ruben Apers (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) staged an attempt to break away that didn’t succeed. It was at kilometer 28 that Daryl Impey (Israel-PremierTech), Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Chris Juul Jensen (BikeExchange-Jayco), Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Fenix), Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies) Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM) and the aforementioned Hulgaard managed to go clear. Some minutes later, Jens Reynders (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Luc Wirtgen (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces) countered as the bunch decided to let the group become the breakaway of the day. Wirtgen bridged back atop the Côte des Forges (km 55,1), while Reynders took some further 10 kilometers to regain the head of the race.
Not much leeway for the attackers
The 10-man group managed to build a maximum advantage of 3’15”, clocked 90 kilometers into the race, over the pack, led by UAE Team Emirates, Ineos Grenadiers and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. The nervous approach to the final circuit, which was to be lapped three times, brought the gap down to 1’35” atop the first climb to the Côte d’Ereffe (km 121,3). The climbs began to wear down the riders at the front. Reynders and Wirtgen were dropped in the Côte de Cherave (km 134,1), as were Juul Jensen, Hulgaard and Rolland on the second time up the Côte d’Ereffe (km 152,5). Meanwhile, back in the bunch, pre-race favorite Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) got dropped atop the Mur de Huy (km 139,8). He withdrew from the race soon after.
Victory up for grabs in Huy
As the breakaway got smaller, bigger was the will of the riders on the bunch to attack. We saw several attempts from Intermarché-Wanty Gobert riders, but it was Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost) who took off on the second climb to the Côte de Cherave (km 165,2) and pulled off a successful chase to regain the head of the race with 25 kilometers to go. Carr did not settle with being at the front and decided to attack again while climbing the Côte d’Ereffe (km 183,6), with Ferron on his wheel, leaving the rest of their breakaway companions to be caught by the bunch shortly after. The peloton shut down their move for good with 9 kilometres to go. The last climb to the Côte de Cherave (km 196,4) saw aggression from Rémy Rochas (Cofidis), Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Soren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM). The Frenchman got dropped on the way to the Mur de Huy, while the Belgian and the Dane were overtaken by the bunch under the last kilometer banner. Movistar Team set the pace up the Mur de Huy with Carlos Verona and Enric Mas, but in came Dylan Teuns to frustrate the plans of the Spanish team with the powerful acceleration he launched at the 200 meters to go sign.