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“I was so happy to be able to ride Fleche today and even though I was not at my best it gave me confirmation that this is a good race for me," Arredondo says

Photo: Trek Factory Racing

ANDY SCHLECK

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FLECHE WALLONNE

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FRANK SCHLECK

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JULIAN DAVID ARREDONDO

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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24.04.2014 @ 11:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

With his explosive, it is now wonder that Julian Arredondo has made Fleche Wallonne his dream race and yesterday he got his first taste of the Belgian classic when he finished 11th in the race. The Colombian was satisfied with the outcome after a difficult build-up where visa problems had seen him arrive from Colombia just the day before the race.

 

Despite efforts by the race organizers to make the final kilometers of Flèche Wallonne a more difficult and tactical affair by shortening the distance between the final three climbs, the 199-kilometer race came down to the final ascent of the infamous Mur de Huy, same as previous editions.  And like always, it was an exciting race as a decimated peloton rushed to the bottom slopes of the wall.

 

By the top it was Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who jumped clear in the final meters of the famously, steep climb and powered to the win ahead of Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

 

Julian Arredondo, the explosive Colombian climber for Trek Factory Racing, was well placed in the top three riders half way up the Mur.  However, he was unable to respond when the leading riders attacked in the final 300 meters, and he rolled across the line in 11th.  

 

Arredondo arrived in Belgium from Colombia yesterday, and he said it was evident that the long flight had affected his chances at a better result.

 

“I still had heavy legs from flight yesterday,” explained Arredondo moments after the finish. “I felt pretty good in the race until the end, especially in the final 200 meters where I had nothing left. I am a bit disappointed as this is my dream race and I would have liked to finish better for the team.”

 

With 11 categorized côtes, including three times up the iconic Mur de Huy, it was a race of attrition with the tough parcours diminishing the numbers in the peloton.  A three-man breakaway during the race posed little threat as the peloton’s focus was on the final three climbs in the last 23 kilometers: two times up the Mur de Huy with the Côte d'Ereffe (2.2km at 5.9%) nestled in between. 

 

The remaining two riders from the break were caught before the penultimate climb (Côte d'Ereffe), and from here on it was a relentless race to the bottom of the Mur de Huy. The fight for position resulted in a two-rider crash with less than four kilometers to go and spelled the end to Fränk Schleck's chances as he was forced to brake hard, coming to a complete stop behind the fallen riders: With the fierce pace of the peloton and just two kilometers to go to the bottom of the Mur, he had no hope to battle back leaving Arredondo to fight alone.

 

“I felt okay, made it to the first group with Julian on the second to last time up the Mur [de Huy] but I missed the attack over the top," said Fränk Schleck. "I knew if I did not make the attack at this point then all my efforts should go toward Julian as he has a great punch.  And then the crash happened with 4k to go - that was just bad luck; that is how it is. 

 

“The whole team showed a huge commitment today," he added. "All the boys asked me if they could ride from the beginning! It was a really warm feeling to see them committed to the race, and want to have fun – they were willing to die with a knife between the teeth today. We can leave this race with a nice feeling. We have time over the next days to set up a tactic for Sunday. If the team keeps this spirit it will be an exciting race."

 

Without teammate Fränk Schleck there to help, Julian Arredondo still positioned himself well in the final run-in. He appeared posed for a great result as the steep grades of the Mur de Huy sorted out the strong legs and he moved into the front positions. But the final surge by the leaders was too much, and Arredondo could do little more than hold his own pace to the line.

 

“I was so happy to be able to ride Fleche today and even though I was not at my best it gave me confirmation that this is a good race for me," continued Arredondo."I slept all the way here on the plane, but still my legs blew up in the end. The team worked well for me all race, that was so amazing to see; I am very thankful they gave me the opportunity to race today.”

 

Andy Scheck, a doubtful starter for today after he had crashed in Amstel Gold Race last week injuring his knee, was forced to stop after the second time of the Mur de Huy.  Although it was disappointing he was philosophical in his explanation, knowing that it was going to be difficult with the knee today.

 

“I trained yesterday on the course and I had pain so I knew it would not be perfect today,” said a dispirited Andy Schleck. “We taped the knee and did laser and I managed pretty well all race. It was fine when I went steady uphill, then I could handle the pain, but when I am not pedaling on a descent and had to start up again with high watts – that is what really hurt. I could not stand and had to sit and go my own speed, so they just rode away from me. I could not push more. Tomorrow I go in for an MRI and I will know more.  I am hoping for the best, and that I will be back for Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Tour of Romandie."

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