Alejandro Valverde waited with the patience of a true veteran, the patience of a defending champion, and made the winning move at Flèche Wallonne, impossibly late on the steep Mur de Huy. The 35-year-old attacked with 100 meters left in the 196km race, and Etixx – Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe could only watch as the Spaniard collected his fourth title in Huy, Belgium, a new record for the men’s edition of this Ardennes classic.

“This is really my race!” Valverde said. “I was feeling more nervous than normal; I didn’t want to miss out. I
worked out the right distance to make my move.”

Top 10

  • 1. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, in 4:43:57
  • 2. Julian ALAPHILIPPE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :00
  • 3. Daniel MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :00
  • 4. Wouter POELS, TEAM SKY, at :04
  • 5. Enrico GASPAROTTO, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :05
  • 6. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at :05
  • 7. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at :05
  • 8. Diego ULISSI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :05
  • 9. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :05
  • 10. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :05

 
Four men rode clear of the day’s primary breakaway, with about 50 kilometers to go: Matteo Bono (Lampre – Merida), Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data), Silvan Dillier (IAM), and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto – Soudal).

The other half of the escape chased behind, including American Kiel Reijnen of Trek – Segafredo. They were caught about 10 kilometers later as Movistar and Sky drove the peloton’s pace.

Though the final four leaders were mere seconds ahead of the peloton on the penultimate climb of the Mur de Huy, they clung to their lead. Cummings and Dillier got a gap over the crest of the hill. Movistar’s Ruben Fernandez and Wanty – Groupe Gobert’s Bjorn Thurau attacked from the peloton and joined van der Sande and Bono after the climb.

Ahead, Cummings gave Dillier the slip with 27km to go, 50 seconds ahead of the peloton. Movistar whipped up the pace, and by the final 20km, all the other escapees were caught.

With a shade under 18km left, Cummings was caught.

The counter-attack came quickly, including Etixx – Quick-Step’s Bob Jungels, Giant – Alpecin’s Georg Priedler, and Movistar’s Ion Izagirre.

With under seven kilometers remaining, their lead had dwindled to under 10 seconds and Jungels made a last-ditch acceleration on the Côte de Cherave. Izagirre followed and then ramped up the pace.

Behind, on the Cherave, Lotto – Soudal’s Tim Wellens attacked the peloton. With about three kilometers to go, he reached the lead duo. But with 2km left, the peloton made the catch to queue up the final sprint to the top of Mur de Huy.

Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez started the sprint after a tense, tactical approach to the line, inside the final kilometer.

Valverde patrolled the front, following his fellow Spaniard’s acceleration.

Etixx – Quick-Step’s Dan Martin was next, making a move up the right side, and again, Valverde followed.

Finally, as the hill began to crest, Valverde attacked up the left side. Alaphilippe tried to follow the defending champ, but he could not come past in the final 75 meters of racing.

“My initial feeling when crossing the line was disappointment at having come close to winning,” said Alaphilippe. “But then I realized it’s my second podium finish in two participations. It’s a race I can win in the future.”

Full results

  • 1. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, in 4:43:57
  • 2. Julian ALAPHILIPPE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :00
  • 3. Daniel MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :00
  • 4. Wouter POELS, TEAM SKY, at :04
  • 5. Enrico GASPAROTTO, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :05
  • 6. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at :05
  • 7. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at :05
  • 8. Diego ULISSI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :05
  • 9. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :05
  • 10. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :05
  • 11. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF, at :05
  • 12. Michael WOODS, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at :05
  • 13. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :05
  • 14. Julien SIMON, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :12
  • 15. Robert GESINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :14
  • 16. Arnold JEANNESSON, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :14
  • 17. Rudy MOLARD, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :14
  • 18. Jelle VANENDERT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :17
  • 19. Pierre-Roger LATOUR, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :17
  • 20. Diego ROSA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :17
  • 21. Michael MATTHEWS, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at :23
  • 22. Jan BAKELANTS, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :23
  • 23. Floris DE TIER, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at :23
  • 24. Serge PAUWELS, DIMENSION DATA, at :27
  • 25. Daniel NAVARRO GARCIA, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :29
  • 26. Louis MEINTJES, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :29
  • 27. Pieter WEENING, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at :29
  • 28. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, TEAM KATUSHA, at :32
  • 29. Dries DEVENYNS, IAM CYCLING, at :34
  • 30. Dylan TEUNS, BMC RACING TEAM, at :34
  • 31. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :34
  • 32. Andrey ZEITS, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :34
  • 33. Huub DUYN, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at :34
  • 34. Bjorn THURAU, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :34
  • 35. Peter STETINA, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :40
  • 36. Tom Jelte SLAGTER, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at :40
  • 37. Daniel MORENO FERNANDEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :43
  • 38. Chris Anker SÖRENSEN, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at :46
  • 39. Sam OOMEN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :46
  • 40. Florian VACHON, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at :46
  • 41. Robert KISERLOVSKI, TINKOFF, at :50
  • 42. Ben HERMANS, BMC RACING TEAM, at :52
  • 43. Julien EL FARES, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at :52
  • 44. Jérémy ROY, FDJ, at :55
  • 45. Andriy GRIVKO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :55
  • 46. Eliot LIETAER, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 1:01
  • 47. Tony GALLOPIN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:14
  • 48. Simon CLARKE, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 1:22
  • 49. Giovanni VISCONTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:27
  • 50. Georg PREIDLER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:32
  • 51. Mikael CHEREL, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:39
  • 52. Cyril GAUTIER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:39
  • 53. Manuele MORI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:42
  • 54. Fabian WEGMANN, SSG, at 1:54
  • 55. Luis Angel MATE MARDONES, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 2:02
  • 56. Fredrik LUDVIGSSON, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 2:04
  • 57. Pieter SERRY, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 2:06
  • 58. Laurens DE PLUS, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 2:06
  • 59. Anthony DELAPLACE, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 2:06
  • 60. Igor ANTON HERNANDEZ, DIMENSION DATA, at 2:10
  • 61. Stefan DENIFL, IAM CYCLING, at 2:13
  • 62. Guillaume MARTIN, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 2:13
  • 63. Bart DE CLERCQ, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 2:17
  • 64. Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 2:25
  • 65. Tim WELLENS, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 2:33
  • 66. Bob JUNGELS, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 3:01
  • 67. Enrico BATTAGLIN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 3:01
  • 68. David DE LA CRUZ MELGAREJO, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 3:16
  • 69. Victor CAMPENAERTS, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 3:23
  • 70. Michel KREDER, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 3:30
  • 71. Natnael BERHANE, DIMENSION DATA, at 3:30
  • 72. Laurent PICHON, FDJ, at 3:30
  • 73. Marcel WYSS, IAM CYCLING, at 3:30
  • 74. Sebastian HENAO GOMEZ, TEAM SKY, at 3:30
  • 75. Jarlinson PANTANO GOMEZ, IAM CYCLING, at 3:30
  • 76. Armindo FONSECA, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 3:30
  • 77. Nathan BROWN, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 3:30
  • 78. Christian MEIER, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 3:30
  • 79. Jack HAIG, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 3:30
  • 80. Preben VAN HECKE, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 3:30
  • 81. Romain HARDY, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 3:30
  • 82. Alex HOWES, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 3:30
  • 83. Clement CHEVRIER, IAM CYCLING, at 3:30
  • 84. Gianluca BRAMBILLA, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 3:30
  • 85. Gaetan BILLE, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 3:30
  • 86. Paolo TIRALONGO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 3:30
  • 87. Oliver ZAUGG, IAM CYCLING, at 3:30
  • 88. Angel VICIOSO ARCOS, TEAM KATUSHA, at 3:30
  • 89. Yury TROFIMOV, TINKOFF, at 3:30
  • 90. Maurits LAMMERTINK, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 3:34
  • 91. Philippe GILBERT, BMC RACING TEAM, at 3:34
  • 92. Loic VLIEGEN, BMC RACING TEAM, at 3:34
  • 93. Pawel POLJANSKI, TINKOFF, at 3:34
  • 94. Arthur VICHOT, FDJ, at 4:14
  • 95. Lawrence WARBASSE, IAM CYCLING, at 4:16
  • 96. Michael VALGREN, TINKOFF, at 4:56
  • 97. Ben GASTAUER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 5:00
  • 98. Ivan ROVNY, TINKOFF, at 5:11
  • 99. Sergei CHERNETSKI, TEAM KATUSHA, at 5:11
  • 100. Alberto LOSADA ALGUACIL, TEAM KATUSHA, at 5:11
  • 101. Tiago MACHADO, TEAM KATUSHA, at 5:11
  • 102. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, TEAM KATUSHA, at 5:11
  • 103. Chad HAGA, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 5:11
  • 104. Tomasz MARCZYNSKI, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 5:11
  • 105. Ben SWIFT, TEAM SKY, at 5:11
  • 106. Rémy DI GREGORIO, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 5:22
  • 107. Petr VAKOC, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 5:25
  • 108. Anthony TURGIS, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 5:54
  • 109. Carlos Alberto BETANCUR GOMEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 5:58
  • 110. Ruben FERNANDEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 5:58
  • 111. Jan POLANC, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 5:58
  • 112. Michal GOLAS, TEAM SKY, at 6:08
  • 113. Paul MARTENS, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 6:08
  • 114. Alessandro DE MARCHI, BMC RACING TEAM, at 6:08
  • 115. Salvatore PUCCIO, TEAM SKY, at 6:08
  • 116. Matteo MONTAGUTI, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 6:08
  • 117. Christopher JUUL JENSEN, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 6:29
  • 118. Mario Jorge FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 6:58
  • 119. Sander HELVEN, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 7:00
  • 120. Stephen CUMMINGS, DIMENSION DATA, at 7:08
  • 121. Lawson CRADDOCK, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 7:08
  • 122. Romain COMBAUD, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 8:02
  • 123. Benjamin KING, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 8:02
  • 124. Odd Christian EIKING, FDJ, at 8:02
  • 125. Benoît VAUGRENARD, FDJ, at 8:02
  • 126. Sven erik BYSTRØM, TEAM KATUSHA, at 8:02
  • 127. Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT, DIMENSION DATA, at 8:02
  • 128. Sébastien MINARD, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 8:02
  • 129. Michael REIHS, SSG, at 8:02
  • 130. Bertjan LINDEMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 8:02
  • 131. Alexey VERMEULEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 8:02
  • 132. Pavel BRUTT, TINKOFF, at 8:02
  • 133. Julien LOUBET, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 8:02
  • 134. Stefan KUENG, BMC RACING TEAM, at 8:02
  • 135. Sander ARMEE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 8:02
  • 136. Silvan DILLIER, BMC RACING TEAM, at 8:02
  • 137. Simon GESCHKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 8:02
  • 138. Fumiyuki BEPPU, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 8:02
  • 139. Nicolas EDET, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 8:02
  • 140. Jean-Marc BIDEAU, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 8:02
  • 141. Laurent DIDIER, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 8:02
  • 142. Ryder HESJEDAL, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 8:02
  • 143. Rory SUTHERLAND, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 8:10
  • 144. Mathew HAYMAN, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 8:10
  • 145. Tosh VAN DER SANDE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 8:12
  • 146. Matteo BONO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 8:15
  • 147. Toms SKUJINS, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 8:22
  • 148. Alexey LUTSENKO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 10:54
  • 149. Aleksei TCATEVICH, TEAM KATUSHA, at 11:19
  • 150. Tim DECLERCQ, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 11:19
  • 151. Johannes FRÖHLINGER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 11:19
  • 152. Pieter VANSPEYBROUCK, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 11:19
  • 153. Johnny HOOGERLAND, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 11:19
  • 154. Omar FRAILE MATARRANZ, DIMENSION DATA, at 11:19
  • 155. Leonardo Fabio DUQUE, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 11:19
  • 156. Yannick MARTINEZ, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 11:23
  • 157. Reinier HONIG, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 11:28
  • 158. Delio FERNANDEZ CRUZ, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 11:41
  • 159. Lars Petter NORDHAUG, TEAM SKY, at 11:41
  • 160. Vegard Stake LAENGEN, IAM CYCLING, at 11:41
  • 161. Koen BOUWMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 11:41
  • 162. Christian Mager, SSG, at 11:47
  • DNF Imanol ERVITI, MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Jens KEUKELEIRE, ORICA – GreenEDGE
  • DNF Adam YATES, ORICA – GreenEDGE
  • DNF Christophe RIBLON, AG2R LA MONDIALE
  • DNF Danny VAN POPPEL, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Dario CATALDO, ASTANA PRO TEAM
  • DNF Lieuwe WESTRA, ASTANA PRO TEAM
  • DNF Evgeny PETROV, TINKOFF
  • DNF Jérôme BAUGNIES, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Mark MCNALLY, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Marinus Cornelis MINNAARD, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Frederik VEUCHELEN, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Kevin LEDANOIS, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT
  • DNF Brice FEILLU, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT
  • DNF Frank SCHLECK, TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Niccolo BONIFAZIO, TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Kiel REIJNEN, TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF William BONNET, FDJ
  • DNF Kévin REZA, FDJ
  • DNF Anthony ROUX, FDJ
  • DNF Caleb FAIRLY, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN
  • DNF Valerio CONTI, LAMPRE – MERIDA
  • DNF Thomas DE GENDT, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Kai REUS, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON
  • DNF Antwan TOLHOEK, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON
  • DNF Jacques JANSE VAN RENSBURG, DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Youcef REGUIGUI, DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Dries VAN GESTEL, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Otto VERGAERDE, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Linus GERDEMANN, SSG
  • DNF Gerald CIOLEK, SSG
  • DNF Lasse Norman HANSEN, SSG
  • DNF Thomas KOEP, SSG
  • DNF Mads PEDERSEN, SSG
  • DNF Daniel DIAZ, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM
  • DNF Quentin PACHER, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM
  • DNS Sergio Luis HENAO MONTOYA, TEAM SKY