Alaphilippe defends title at Flèche Wallonne

The flying Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe wins his second Flèche Wallonne in a row, out-sprinting Jakob Fuglsang atop the Mur de Huy.

After a couple of near-misses in recent weeks, Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe came correct on Wednesday in Flèche Wallonne, winning atop the Mur de Huy finish climb.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s star rider, winner of Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo earlier this season, won the hilly Belgian race for the second year in a row ahead of Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) was a distant third in the grind to the finish after 195 kilometers.

“Last year, I notched up my first big victory here, so being able to repeat that success gives me a lot of joy, but this tastes differently because this edition was far more difficult,” Alaphilippe said.

Along the way, Alaphilippe overcame a flat tire late in the race that forced him to chase back to the field with 40km to go.

The remnants of the day’s early breakaway entered the final 50 kilometers with about a minute’s advantage. American Robin Carpenter (Rally-UHC) was one of the three off the front, but their escape came to an end with about 30km to go.

Around that time, several crashes disrupted the race and spoiled the day for a few key favorites.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data), and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) were all out of the running before the decisive final climbs.

“Six out of seven riders were involved in crashes, some of them multiple,” said Mitchelton-Scott team director Matt White. “Lucky for us is that nobody was seriously injured but obviously Adam Yates going down with Nick Schultz and four or five others coming in with one lap to go, that was our day done.”

With a more difficult finish circuit on offer for this 83rd edition of the race, Thomasz Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal) took off solo, about 18km from the finish.

Sensing an opportunity and free from his domestique duties with Pozzovivo crashed out, Bahrain-Merida’s Matej Mohoric gave chase.

However, those two didn’t have the power to fend off the chasing peloton. Plus, the windy conditions leading into the final climbs made for a difficult ride off the front.

The race was all back together by the bottom of the finish climb, in keeping with the usual race dynamics of Flèche Wallonne.

Alaphilippe said the headwind made the finish climb even more difficult this time.

“The final 300 meters of the race were really hard, due to the headwind on the Mur, but I left it late and timed my acceleration perfectly,” he said.

The Danish climber Fuglsang hit out first, quickly getting a small gap on the peloton as the climb ramped up. Alaphilippe responded and soon had ridden across the gap. With this duo off the front, Flèche Wallonne was looking very similar to Sunday’s Amstel Gold race, where Alaphilippe and Fuglsang collaborated in a late attack.

This time around, though, the duo would not be caught by the riders behind.

“[Our plan was not] trying it in the final hundred meters, but right from halfway the climb to put the more explosive guys under pressure,” said Fuglsang, explaining his early move. “That kind of succeeded, only thing was that Julian Alaphilippe couldn’t be stopped. When he passed me I thought I could still overtake him before the finish, but I had nothing left for the final meters.”

Into the final 100 meters, Alaphilippe launched his trademark acceleration. Fuglsang gutted out one last kick on Alaphilippe’s right side, but it was not enough to come past the flying Frenchman.

Ulissi was pleased with his podium result considering that he had also tried a late attack on the final circuit.

“I must say that I made a great final climb, very consistent,” the Italian said. “I was also a little surprised because the last 200 meters have always been a bit impossible for me, but not this time. We also moved very well as a team, first with Henao in the breakaway of the first lap, and then with Rui Costa, who tried to help me in the final.”

The result bodes well for Alaphilippe’s bid to win his second monument classic on Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

La Flèche Wallonne Results

1ALAPHILIPPE JulianDeceuninck - Quick Step4:55:14
2FUGLSANG JakobAstana Pro Team0:00
3ULISSI DiegoUAE-Team Emirates0:06
4LAMBRECHT BjorgLotto Soudal0:08
5SCHACHMANN MaximilianBORA - hansgrohe0:08
6MOLLEMA BaukeTrek - Segafredo0:08
7KONRAD PatrickBORA - hansgrohe0:08
8MATTHEWS MichaelTeam Sunweb0:08
9VANENDERT JelleLotto Soudal0:11
10GASPAROTTO EnricoTeam Dimension Data0:11
11VALVERDE AlejandroMovistar Team0:11
12COSNEFROY BenoîtAG2R La Mondiale0:11
13BARDET RomainAG2R La Mondiale0:11
14TEUNS DylanBahrain Merida0:11
15DE PLUS LaurensTeam Jumbo-Visma0:11
16KWIATKOWSKI MichałTeam Sky0:11
17WELLENS TimLotto Soudal0:15
18MARTIN GuillaumeWanty - Gobert Cycling Team0:19
19MOLARD RudyGroupama - FDJ0:23
20HENAO SergioUAE-Team Emirates0:25
21DE MARCHI AlessandroCCC Team0:25
22POELS WoutTeam Sky0:30
23CLARKE SimonEF Education First0:36
24HERRADA JesúsCofidis, Solutions Crédits0:38
25CICCONE GiulioTrek - Segafredo0:42
26COSTA RuiUAE-Team Emirates0:45
27FORMOLO DavideBORA - hansgrohe0:45
28HOWSON DamienMitchelton-Scott0:56
29IZAGIRRE GorkaAstana Pro Team1:24
30MAS EnricDeceuninck - Quick Step1:45
31LUTSENKO AlexeyAstana Pro Team1:45
32SPRENGERS ThomasSport Vlaanderen - Baloise1:47
33BETANCUR CarlosMovistar Team1:47
34PAUWELS SergeCCC Team1:47
35PEYSKENS DimitriWallonie-Bruxelles1:47
36REICHENBACH SébastienGroupama - FDJ1:57
37CHEREL MikaëlAG2R La Mondiale1:59
38FRANK MathiasAG2R La Mondiale2:01
39MCCARTHY JayBORA - hansgrohe2:01
40MADOUAS ValentinGroupama - FDJ2:02
41ROSSKOPF JoeyCCC Team2:06
42HAAS NathanTeam Katusha Alpecin2:07
43VERONA CarlosMovistar Team2:29
44SÁNCHEZ Luis LeónAstana Pro Team2:29
45LIETAER EliotWallonie-Bruxelles2:29
46GAUDU DavidGroupama - FDJ2:41
47MARCZYŃSKI TomaszLotto Soudal3:22
48SLAGTER Tom-JelteTeam Dimension Data3:22
49MOHORIČ MatejBahrain Merida3:22
50DEVENYNS DriesDeceuninck - Quick Step4:52
51WARBASSE LarryAG2R La Mondiale5:36
52GESINK RobertTeam Jumbo-Visma5:45
53POGAČAR TadejUAE-Team Emirates6:01
54CARUSO DamianoBahrain Merida6:19
55WOODS MichaelEF Education First6:19
56ANACONA WinnerMovistar Team6:24
57VILLELLA DavideAstana Pro Team6:24
58AMADOR AndreyMovistar Team6:24
59PEREZ AnthonyCofidis, Solutions Crédits6:24
60ROCHE NicolasTeam Sunweb6:27
61GONZÁLEZ MarioEuskadi Basque Country - Murias6:30
62SKUJIŅŠ TomsTrek - Segafredo6:47
63JENSEN AugustIsrael Cycling Academy7:26
64MONFORT MaximeLotto Soudal7:27
65MATÉ Luis ÁngelCofidis, Solutions Crédits7:27
66EIKING Odd ChristianWanty - Gobert Cycling Team7:27
67DELTOMBE KevinSport Vlaanderen - Baloise7:27
68DOUBEY FabienWanty - Gobert Cycling Team7:33
69GOGL MichaelTrek - Segafredo7:34
70BAKELANTS JanTeam Sunweb7:34
71ARMÉE SanderLotto Soudal7:34
72SIMON JulienCofidis, Solutions Crédits7:37
73GONÇALVES JoséTeam Katusha Alpecin7:40
74SEIGLE RomainGroupama - FDJ7:47
75BROWN NathanEF Education First7:48
76DEGAND ThomasWanty - Gobert Cycling Team7:48
77VAN DER SANDE ToshLotto Soudal7:57
78BENEDETTI CesareBORA - hansgrohe8:00
79BERNARD JulienTrek - Segafredo8:00
80MARTENS PaulTeam Jumbo-Visma8:00
81VAN BAARLE DylanTeam Sky8:00
82VERVAEKE LouisTeam Sunweb8:00
83MÜHLBERGER GregorBORA - hansgrohe8:00
84BATTAGLIN EnricoTeam Katusha Alpecin8:22
85BOUWMAN KoenTeam Jumbo-Visma8:50
86KOCH JonasCCC Team8:54
87VAKOČ PetrDeceuninck - Quick Step9:15
88PÉRICHON Pierre-LucCofidis, Solutions Crédits9:49
89CARPENTER RobinRally UHC Cycling9:49
90GUERREIRO RubenTeam Katusha Alpecin10:29
91LUDVIGSSON TobiasGroupama - FDJ10:53
92MINNAARD MarcoWanty - Gobert Cycling Team10:53
93JOYCE ColinRally UHC Cycling10:58
94FRAILE OmarAstana Pro Team10:58
95ANDERSON RyanRally UHC Cycling10:58
96TUREK DanielIsrael Cycling Academy10:58
97VERWILST AaronSport Vlaanderen - Baloise11:10
98PAASSCHENS MathijsWallonie-Bruxelles11:18
99PARET-PEINTRE AurélienAG2R La Mondiale11:37
100VALGREN MichaelTeam Dimension Data11:38
101BENNETT SeanEF Education First11:55
102WIRTGEN TomWallonie-Bruxelles16:45

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.