The Dane attacked from the peloton on the final climb of the day and dropped his companions in the break to take his first monument victory, at the age of 34. That elusive victory almost slipped away from him on the final descent of the day when he nearly lost his rear wheel on the greasy road surface. However, the Astana man kept his composure and stayed upright to continue to the biggest victory of his career.
“It’s an amazing feeling and I’m happy that my wife was right,” Fuglsang said, commenting on his wife’s belief he would be able to win. “I will always listen to her from now on, I promise.”
Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished second, 27 seconds back, having made the jump with Fuglsang on the Cote de La Roche-aux-Faucons. Maximillian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) completed the podium, giving his team second and third place after the disappointment of Peter Sagan pulling out of the race after failing to find his form through spring.
Cold rain fell through the majority of the race, and the tough conditions saw pre-race dangermen Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and past-winner Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) pulling out.
After a series of splits with 100 kilometers to go, a large peloton had reformed at the head of the race with 25km to go.
The action started hotting up as the new-look finale started to play out, with Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) attacking on the penultimate climb of the day, the Côte des Forges, and bridging up to the last remaining riders from the breakaway, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Tanel Kangert (EF-Education First).
The quartet were sucked in by the peloton before the final climb of the day however as Astana drove the pace, working for Fuglsang, looking to make the race as difficult as possible for the strong finishers still in the peloton such as Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team).
Wellens attacked again on the Roche-aux-Faucons, and this proved the pivotal move, with Fuglsang, Michael Woods (EF-Education First) and Formolo following him, and Vicenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) struggling to hold the pace.
The trio of Woods, Formolo, and Fuglsang reached the top of the climb together, but it was on the long drag before the descent that Fuglsang proved his power, dropping his rivals.
Behind, a chase group of Nibali, Mikel Landa (Movistar), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) formed. They caught Woods, but Formolo managed to hold a gap on them.
It nearly all went wrong for the lone leader on the final descent of the day, with the wet roads causing him to nearly lose his wheel and slip into the gutter. However, the Dane was able to make the save of his career and continue unphased. “It was a scary moment but a bit of adrenaline for the last part,” he said afterward.
With 5km to go, Fuglsang was time trialing his way to victory, 25 seconds up on Formolo, and over 50 seconds up on the chasers. He crossed the line to take victory 27 seconds ahead of Formolo. There was a sprint for third from the group behind, with Schachmann just edging out Yates and Woods.