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"When I saw Valverde going at 100 meters from the finish I knew it was over. The good thing is that my legs really felt very well."

Photo: Sirotti






22.04.2015 @ 19:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

As previous winners of La Flèche Wallonne, both Joaquim Rodriguez (2012) and Daniel Moreno (2013) were looking to add another to their results on Wednesday’s race in the Wallonia region of Belgium, and almost achieved their goals. But a final attack at 100 meters to go gave a third win to Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) with Rodriguez and Moreno just missing the podium in fourth and 5th places. 


"The finish climb scenario was not like I wanted it to be. I felt good but I was blocked a bit at my favorite distance to the finish to attack. It was also an extremely fast ascent of the Mur. In the end I was at a good position but with that speed there was no way to attack any more. When I saw Valverde going at 100 meters from the finish I knew it was over. The good thing is that my legs really felt very well. I need to thank all of my Katusha teammates for their support all day long. Sunday will be another race. Now already I am very motivated for Liège," said team leader Joaquim Rodriguez, referring to Sunday’s Liège – Bastonne – Liège one-day classic race. 


A group of some 30 riders arrived all together for the last ascent of the Mur de Huy with the super steep pitches immediately slowing the pace and forcing the riders to show patience. As lone breakaway Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) was reabsorbed into the group, the others rose up out of their saddles on the steepest sections of the climb to keep position at the front. It was only the final 100 meters that saw Valverde surge from the group to take the win ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick Step) and Michael Albasini of Orica-GreenEdge with a time of 5:08.22. Rodriguez and Moreno were right behind, all on the same time as the winner. 


"We assumed our responsibilities from the beginning. We started controlling the race some 25 km after the first climb. We had bad luck with some crashes. We lost Tsatevich, and Machado also crashed but he recovered and came back to do a good job as we’d discussed. At the last 200 m Valverde was just too strong and there was nothing we could do but recognize his efforts and say congratulations. We came the last time on the Huy in the front. The team did everything perfectly," said team director José Azevedo.


At 205,5 km the midweek classic of the Ardennes week started in Waremme and ended in Huy with 3 laps of a difficult circuit which included the climb up the Mur de Huy each time. The 79th edition played out over the numerous climbs in front of large crowds of Belgian fans enjoying a midweek race. A long break was finally brought back near the final ascent of the Huy, aided at times by the disruptions in the main field. Many crashes came all day long with riders and bikes scattered across the roads and into ditches. Team Katusha’s Tiago Machado was in an early crash but was able to carry on, while Alexey Tsatevich took a tumble late in the race and was unable to continue after his fall.


Racing continues on Sunday with Liège – Bastonne – Liège.



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