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Fleche Wallonne: Valverde takes 4th consecutive win

Josh Cunningham
19 Apr 2017

Alejandro Valverde wins in agonising uphill sprint on the Mur de Huy

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won his fourth Fleche Wallonne in as many years today, outsprinting Daniel Martin (Quickstep) and Dylan Teuns (BMC) to the line at the top of the Mur de Huy.

Despite an impressive late solo attack from Quickstep's Bob Jungels in the final 30km, the race, as it almost always does, came down to who could ride up the final infamous climb the fastest.

Jungels was swallowed up with a few hundred metres to go, and after biding his time behind the initial flurries of movement at the head of the bunch, Valverde sprung an attack in the dying stages that nobody could follow.

As it happened

The race got underway with a six-rider attack featuring Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Romain Guillemois (Direct Energie), Fabien Doubey (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Nils Politt (Katusha Alpecin), Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport), and Olivier Pardini (WB Veranclassic Protect).

The break's lead grew to around 6 minutes, and at the 100km mark it was Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team setting the pace in the peloton.

By the time the breakaway hit the first of three ascents of the brutal Mur de Huy the gap was down to 2 minutes 40 though, and with 60km left to go at this point the pace was starting to really lift behind, with riders being dropped from the peloton as well as the break.

With the break whittled down to three and the gap down to on minute, attacks started to come from behind with Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Carlos Betancur (Movistar) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) showing their faces.

By the time the Mur was crested for the second time at a little under 30km to go the break had been swallowed and De Marchi found himself 20 seconds ahead of the peloton, with Quickstep Floors' Bob Jungels in chase.

Once together the two riders began working well, and built up a lead of over 30 seconds as Movistar and Orica-Scott policed the front of the peloton.

With a little over 12km to go Jungels, a powerful time-trial rider, let fly solo on a descent and quickly distanced De Marchi while also putting an extra 15 seconds into the peloton.

Hitting the penultimate climb of the Cote de Cherave at 7.5km to go Jungels had a gap of almost 50 seconds on the bunch. De Marchi meanwhile was swallowed up on its lower slopes and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) tested the waters with an attack out of the peloton, which by the top of the Cherave had reduced the gap to 30 seconds.

Cannondale-Drapac, Orica-Scott and Movistar led the peloton into the foot of the Mur de Huy, and by the time Jungels hit its lower slopes the gap was 23 seconds.

The 24-year-old was eventually engulfed around half way up the climb, before the agonising final few hundred metres was contested by the pre-race favourites.

FDJ's David Gaudu was the first to spring an attack, with Valverde going directly over the top of him. Dylan Teuns (BMC) and Sergio Henao (Sky) tried to respond, but the Spaniard was too strong and simply rode away for the win. 

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