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Alaphilippe tops Valverde at Fleche Wallonne

By Dane Cash • Published
Julian Alaphilippe wins La Flèche Wallonne. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe denied Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) a fifth straight Flèche Wallonne title on Wednesday. The Frenchman proved the strongest on the iconic Mur de Huy, getting clear of the rest of the favorites alongside Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) and then exploding away from the Belgian in the final few hundred meters.

Valverde came alive in the waning moments attempting to close the distance himself, but never truly threatened Alaphilippe, who took the clear victory at the line. Valverde settled for second ahead of Vanendert in third.

The win stands as the biggest so far in Alaphilippe’s young career. The 25-year-old had twice finished as runner-up in the midweek classic, but was still seeking a marquee one-day victory coming into his third Flèche Wallonne appearance.

“It’s the third time I’ve ridden it, and the third time I’ve been on the podium — but this time as a winner. I thought each time that I could do it. I worked really, really hard,” Alaphilippe said.

Top 10

  • 1. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) QUICK-STEP FLOORS, in 4:53:37
  • 2. Alejandro Valverde, (SPA) MOVISTAR TEAM, at :00:04
  • 3. Jelle Vanendert, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00:06
  • 4. Roman Kreuziger, (CZE) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at :00:06
  • 5. Michael Matthews, (AUS) TEAM SUNWEB, at :00:06
  • 6. Bauke Mollema, (NED) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :00:06
  • 7. Tim Wellens, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00:06
  • 8. Maximilian Schachmann, (GER) QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at :00:06
  • 9. Romain Bardet, (FRA) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :00:06
  • 10. Patrick Konrad, (AUT) BORA-HANSGROHE, at :00:12

The 198.5-kilometer trek through Belgium’s Wallonia region saw an eight-rider break form shortly after the pack rolled out from Seraing. Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert),Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Samsic), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Romain Combaud (Delko Marseille Provence KTM), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), Patrick Muller (Vital Concept), and Antoine Warnier (VB Aqua Protect Veranclassic) comprised the early escape, working their advantage up over three minutes in short order.

The gap hovered between three and four minutes for much of the afternoon as the race rolled over one punchy climb after another. Things began to heat up with around 70 kilometers to go, when a select group of heavy hitters jumped clear from the pack on the day’s first trip up the Mur de Huy. Rob Power (Mitchelton-Scott), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), Mikel Landa (Movistar), and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) opened a small gap before being swallowed up again, though the aggression woke up the race, with other riders quickly following up with moves of their own.

A flurry of attacks split the peloton, while also cutting dramatically into the advantage of the early break, with around 50 kilometers to go. The morning escapees were caught some 45 kilometers from the finish.

Bahrain-Merida’s Vincenzo Nibali linked up with Tanel Kangert (Astana), Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), and Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe) to form a powerful move with around 40 kilometers to go. The sextet built up a modest gap, with the advantage topping at around a minute, but Lotto Soudal stepped up to lead a strong chasing effort in the peloton behind, which saw the gap begin to fall rapidly with around 15 kilometers to go.

Sensing the danger, Haig attacked out of the lead group on the penultimate climb, the Côte de Cherave, but couldn’t put much distance between himself and his companions. Nibali countered with a move of his own but came up empty-handed as well. Haig and Schachmann dropped the other escapees in the run-up to the Mur, but both were quickly swallowed up as the gradients rose towards the double digits.

With the pack altogether for the final push, Vanendert made a strong acceleration to find daylight in the final few hundred meters, but Alaphilippe slingshotted around him to solo clear in sight of the line. He maintained his lead to the line despite a late push by Valverde.

The Spaniard, a five-time Flèche Wallonne champion and winner of the last four straight editions, tipped his cap to Alaphilippe after the finish.

“I started a bit far back and it cost me moving up. But look, Alaphilippe is a really good rider. He’s already been second twice, and this year he won. It’s his year,” Valverde said. “If I were to win again, it would seem easy, and people ought to know that it is never easy to win.”

Results

  • 1. Julian Alaphilippe, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, in 4:53:37
  • 2. Alejandro Valverde, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :04
  • 3. Jelle Vanendert, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :06
  • 4. Roman Kreuziger, MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at :06
  • 5. Michael Matthews, TEAM SUNWEB, at :06
  • 6. Bauke Mollema, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :06
  • 7. Tim Wellens, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :06
  • 8. Maximilian Schachmann, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :06
  • 9. Romain Bardet, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :06
  • 10. Patrick Konrad, BORA – HANSGROHE, at :12
  • 11. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya, TEAM SKY, at :15
  • 12. Tom-Jelte Slagter, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :19
  • 13. Rudy Molard, GROUPAMA – FDJ, at :21
  • 14. Diego Ulissi, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :25
  • 15. Alexis Vuillermoz, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :28
  • 16. Jakob Fuglsang, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :28
  • 17. Serge Pauwels, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :28
  • 18. Ilnur Zakarin, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at :30
  • 19. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :32
  • 20. Robert Gesink, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :34
  • 21. Jay Mccarthy, BORA – HANSGROHE, at :36
  • 22. Pieter Serry, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :39
  • 23. Jesus Herrada, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :39
  • 24. Philippe Gilbert, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :42
  • 25. Nicolas Edet, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :44
  • 26. Emanuel Buchmann, BORA – HANSGROHE, at :47
  • 27. Enrico Gasparotto, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :49
  • 28. Rigoberto Uran, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at :54
  • 29. Steff Cras, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 01:05
  • 30. Dylan Teuns, BMC RACING TEAM, at 01:08
  • 31. Sam Oomen, TEAM SUNWEB, at 01:13
  • 32. Alessandro De Marchi, BMC RACING TEAM, at 01:18
  • 33. Michael Woods, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 01:22
  • 34. Jack Haig, MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 01:22
  • 35. Mathias Frank, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 01:25
  • 36. Anthony Roux, GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 01:27
  • 37. Cesare Benedetti, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 01:29
  • 38. Gorka Izaguirre Insausti, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 01:34
  • 39. Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 01:43
  • 40. Tanel Kangert, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 01:46
  • 41. Bob Jungels, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at 01:55
  • 42. Mikel Landa Meana, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 01:59
  • 43. Vincenzo Nibali, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 02:13
  • 44. Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 02:23
  • 45. Warren Barguil, TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC, at 02:23
  • 46. Floris De Tier, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 02:51
  • 47. Omar Fraile Matarranz, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 03:01
  • 48. Pierre Rolland, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 03:06
  • 49. Laurens Ten Dam, TEAM SUNWEB, at 03:07
  • 50. Michael Valgren Andersen, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 03:07
  • 51. Rob Power, MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 03:27
  • 52. Tiesj Benoot, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 03:56
  • 53. Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier Werkilul, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 04:03
  • 54. Damien Howson, MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 04:12
  • 55. Hermann Pernsteiner, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 05:37
  • 56. Mauro Finetto, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM, at 07:32
  • 57. Michal Kwiatkowski, TEAM SKY, at 07:37
  • 58. Thomas Sprengers, SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 09:23
  • 59. Andrey Grivko, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 09:29
  • 60. Christopher Hamilton, TEAM SUNWEB, at 09:37
  • 61. Daniel Martin, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 09:37
  • 62. Daniel Garcia Navarro, at 09:37
  • 63. Steven Kruijswijk, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 09:37
  • 64. Wout Poels, TEAM SKY, at 09:37
  • 65. Tosh Van Der Sande, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 09:37
  • 66. Xandro Meurisse, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 09:37
  • 67. Elie Gesbert, TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC, at 09:37
  • 68. Simon Geschke, TEAM SUNWEB, at 09:37
  • 69. Robert KiŠerlovski, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 09:37
  • 70. Axel Domont, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 09:45
  • 71. Bjorg Lambrecht, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 09:45
  • 72. Fabien Doubey, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 09:45
  • 73. Michael Gogl, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 09:45
  • 74. Willem Jakobus Smit, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 09:45
  • 75. Romain Seigle, GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 09:52
  • 76. Dario Cataldo, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 09:52
  • 77. Thomas Degand, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 09:52
  • 78. Maxime Monfort, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 09:52
  • 79. Tao Geoghegan Hart, TEAM SKY, at 09:56
  • 80. Alberto Bettiol, BMC RACING TEAM, at 10:02
  • 81. Manuele Mori, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 10:02
  • 82. Christopher Juul Jensen, MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at 10:02
  • 83. Kevin Reza, VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB, at 10:02
  • 84. Paul Martens, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 10:02
  • 85. Andrea Pasqualon, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 10:02
  • 86. Simon Gerrans, BMC RACING TEAM, at 10:02
  • 87. José Rojas, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 10:02
  • 88. Alex Howes, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at 10:02
  • 89. Ben Gastauer, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 10:17
  • 90. Rafal Majka, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 10:21
  • 91. Tomasz Marczynski, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 10:21
  • 92. Aleksandr Riabushenko, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 10:21
  • 93. Guillaume Martin, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 10:21
  • 94. Chad Haga, TEAM SUNWEB, at 10:21
  • 95. Stef Clement, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 10:21
  • 96. Franco Pellizotti, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 10:27
  • 97. Benoit Vaugrenard, GROUPAMA – FDJ, at 10:27
  • 98. Jose Herrada, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 10:31
  • 99. Anthony Perez, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 10:31
  • 100. Amael Moinard, TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC, at 10:31
  • 101. Jon Izaguirre Insausti, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at 10:44
  • 102. Romain Hardy, TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC, at 11:15
  • 103. Maurits Lammertink, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at 11:18
  • 104. Toms Skujins, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 11:52
  • 105. Kevin Deltombe, SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 12:54
  • 106. Julien Mortier, WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC, at 12:54
  • 107. Stephen Cummings, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at 13:06
  • DNF Quentin Pacher, VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Thomas Deruette, WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC
  • DNF Maxime Vantomme, WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC
  • DNF Julien Simon, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Jordi Warlop, SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Mathias Van Gompel, SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Dries Van Gestel, SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Benjamin Declercq, SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Dion Smith, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Kevin Van Melsen, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Enric Mas Nicolau, QUICK – STEP FLOORS
  • DNF James Knox, QUICK – STEP FLOORS
  • DNF Rúben Guerreiro, TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Gregory Daniel, TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Justin Jules, WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC
  • DNF Julien Bernard, TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Lucas De Rossi, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM
  • DNF Luis Angel Mate Mardones, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF G Lawson Craddock, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE
  • DNF Tanguy Turgis, VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Patrick MÜller, VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Justin Mottier, VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Johan Le Bon, VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Julien Trarieux, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM
  • DNF Benoit Cosnefroy, AG2R LA MONDIALE
  • DNF Christophe Masson, WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC
  • DNF Johannes FrÖhlinger, TEAM SUNWEB
  • DNF John Anderson Rodriguez Salazar, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM
  • DNF Angel Madrazo Ruiz, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM
  • DNF Julien El Fares, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM
  • DNF Romain Combaud, DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM
  • DNF Antoine Warnier, WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC
  • DNF Dimitri Peyskens, WB AQUA PROTECT VERANCLASSIC
  • DNF Yoann Bagot, VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Loïc Vliegen, BMC RACING TEAM
  • DNF Bert-Jan Lindeman, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Michael Albasini, MITCHELTON – SCOTT
  • DNF Vasil Kiryienka, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Lukasz Wisniowski, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Michal Golas, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Franck Bonnamour, TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC
  • DNF Damiano Caruso, BMC RACING TEAM
  • DNF Kevin Ledanois, TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC
  • DNF Rory Sutherland, UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Matteo Bono, UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Imanol Erviti, MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Carlos Betancur, MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Winner Andrew Anacona, MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Andrey Amador, MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Kilian Frankiny, BMC RACING TEAM
  • DNF Lars Boom, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Nicholas Dlamini, TEAM DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Scott Davies, TEAM DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Matteo Fabbro, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN
  • DNF Ian Boswell, TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN
  • DNF Hugo Houle, ASTANA PRO TEAM
  • DNF Lucas Hamilton, MITCHELTON – SCOTT
  • DNF Gregor MÜhlberger, BORA – HANSGROHE
  • DNF Benjamin King, TEAM DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Jan Bakelants, AG2R LA MONDIALE
  • DNF Grega Bole, BAHRAIN – MERIDA
  • DNF Kim Magnusson, TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE
  • DNF Léo Vincent, GROUPAMA – FDJ
  • DNF Valentin Madouas, GROUPAMA – FDJ
  • DNF David Gaudu, GROUPAMA – FDJ
  • DNF Florian Vachon, TEAM FORTUNEO – SAMSIC
  • DNF Pawel Poljanski, BORA – HANSGROHE
  • DNS Aaron Verwilst, SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE

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