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"I had a good feeling in the race and was always riding in front on the climbs. I was convinced it was possible to set a good result, unfortunately I crashed."

Photo: Lotto Soudal

FLECHE WALLONNE

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JELLE VANENDERT

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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THOMAS DE GENDT

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TIM WELLENS

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22.04.2015 @ 19:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The big question before today’s Flèche Wallonne was which influence the Côte de Cherave would have. Tim Wellens decided to have a go on this new climb. In the last hectometres of the Mur de Huy the Lotto Soudal rider was caught. Jelle Vanendert, the second leader in the team, couldn’t contest the victory. He had abandoned the race after a crash.

 

Specialist Thomas De Gendt was part of a long breakaway which he set up. The seven riders had a maximal lead of eight minutes. Just over halfway Tim Wellens stood at the side of the road after a crash, teammate Pim Ligthart took him back to the bunch. Jelle Vanendert was less lucky. The Belgian crashed just before the second ascent of the Mur de Huy and abandoned the race. There’s not too much physical damage, his right elbow is bruised. It was his second crash in four days, after he already hit the ground in the Amstel Gold Race.

 

“Just as  in the Amstel Gold Race I hit my right elbow. It’s never good when you crash two times in a few days, but there’s not too much damage. I had a good feeling in the race and was always riding in front on the climbs. I was convinced it was possible to set a good result, unfortunately I crashed," he said.

 

 

Sixty kilometres before the end of the race the peloton picked up the pace and the advantage of the leaders decreased quickly. After the second crossing of the finish line Thomas De Gendt and Jérôme Baugnies were still in front. Their companion Daniele Ratto rejoined them after a few kilometres, together with Luis León Sánchez and Giovanni Visconti who had jumped away from the bunch.

 

On the Côte d’Ereffe, 16.5 kilometres from the finish, Louis Vervaeke accelerated and with Tejay Van Garderen he had a gap for a while. In the meantime De Gendt was caught. Sánchez and Visconti were the last escapees to be reeled in on the Côte de Cherave. Then Tim Wellens attacked and he arrived solo at the top, at five and a half kilometres from the end. At the bottom of the Mur de Huy, Wellens had about ten seconds advantage, that was not enough. Alejandro Valverde won for the second year in a row. He beat Julian Alaphilippe and Michael Albasini.

 

“I was one of the riders in the team who had to try to join a breakaway, so the teams of the favourites had to work," De Gendt said. "The composition of the front group was good. I was happy Jérôme Baugnies was one of the escapees as well, he goes all the way. The cooperation went smoothly and we had a maximal lead of eight minutes. On the climbs it was obvious which riders were the strongest in front. We were left with five after the second ascent of the Côte de Bellaire. Later, that group fell apart and Sánchez and Visconti bridged to the front. When I noticed Louis had jumped away from the peloton I decided to wait and help him.”

 

“The plan was that I should attack on the Côte de Cherave or just before and Jelle Vanendert would wait until the last ascent of the Mur de Huy," Wellens said. "It was a pity that Jelle had to leave the race. I decided to stick to the plan because I can’t compete with the explosive riders in the peloton. I know the course really well, the descent of the Côte de Cherave suits me. It went well until the first part of the Mur de Huy, but with 900 metres to go I felt my legs got weaker; 300 metres further I was reeled in.

 

"This attempt wasn’t intended to show myself, but I aimed for the victory. It gives me confidence for Liège-Bastogne-Liège that I was in a position in which it was possible to win. I often train on the course of the Flèche Wallonne and it’s no far from my home town Sint-Truiden. Many fans came to support me along the route, that was great.”

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