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"I did my maximum but have to admit 8 guys were stronger today. Of course I am a little bit disappointed when you see how good the team worked," Moreno says

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele

DANIEL MORENO

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FLECHE WALLONNE

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JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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23.04.2014 @ 19:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having won the race the last two years, Katusha's string of success came to an end in today's 2014 edition of Fleche Wallonne when neither Daniel Moreno or Joaquim Rodriguez could mix it up with the best. Defending champion Moreno openly admitted that he wasn't strong enough while Rodriguez went down in a crash after having already suffered all day with the effects from his brusied ribs sustained at the Amstel Gold Race.

 

Team Katusha executed a perfect race in Wednesday’s 78th Flèche-Wallonne, controlling the race from the beginning. But a third time up the Mur de Huy proved to be one time too much with defending champion Dani Moreno distanced in the final to end up in ninth place.

 

“I felt good the whole day," Moreno said. "A finish like on the Mur suits me very well, at least when I can do it after a little break. Today we arrived so fast. I could not respond the others.

 

"I did my maximum but have to admit 8 guys were stronger today. Of course I am a little bit disappointed when you see how good the team worked.”

 

As is customary, the Mur de Huy featured prominently in the race. The peloton rode the climb two times before facing the challenging finish at the top. The uphill sprint was taken by a surging Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who attacked with 150 m to go and had plenty of room to celebrate on the finish line.

 

Coming in at 3 and 4 seconds behind him to round out the podium were Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Moreno’s 9th place came at eleven seconds off the winning time.

 

“We kept control of the race until the final for Moreno," Team director José Azevedo said. "He did his best but it wasn’t quite enough. Our goal was to win the race, of course, but the performance of the riders was very good. All of our riders did very, very well and the level of the team is good. We just lost in the end with some that were faster than us.”

 

The stage began in Bastogne and ended in Huy after 199 km of racing. A group of three riders made the break of the day, building a gap of almost 9 minutes. It wasn’t until 12 km to go that the last two were hauled back into the group, creating a long thin line of riders rushing to the Huy for the final time. 

 

In the last few kilometers before the climb, Joaquim Rodriguez was involved in a crash that sent him and several others to the ground.

 

Joaquim Rodriguez explained:

 

“It was a stupid crash at 3 km from the end. It was bad luck for me, (Damiano) Cunego and (Frank) Schleck. It’s not a big problem anyway. My race was already lost. I had pain the whole day but I am glad I could finish the race. This will be useful for a better Liège,” he said, referring to Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège race. 

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