FLÈCHE WALLONNE’19: Revenge for Alaphilippe

Race Report: After losing out in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, Julian Alaphilippe made no mistakes on the final climb of the Mur de Huy to win the 2019 Flèche Wallonne. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider rode away from the others with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and then beat the Dane to the line. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) finished third and young Belgian Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) took fourth place.

Julian Alaphilippe dethroned Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) after four years as King of the Mur last year and repeated his win of 2018 on Wednesday. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider was by far the best on the final climb of the wall as the World champion was out of the top ten.

From start in Ans the riders had to climb the Côte de Tancrémont and the Côte des Forges before hitting the second part of the race on the three laps of 29 kilometres, including the Côte d’Ereffe, the Côte de Cherave and the Mur de Huy. The Mur is famous for the decisive final steep kilometre.

Five riders made the early break: Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) and Kenneth Van Rooy (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) joined forces and were joined by Robin Carpenter (Rally-UHC), Joey Rosskopf (CCC) and Tom Wirtgen (Wallonie Bruxelles). The escape held the gap at 5 minutes for a long time before the chase started. They had a 3:40 lead 77 kilometres from the finish line. Movistar and UAE Team Emirates were in control.

On the first crossing of the Cherave, Van Rooy was dropped from the leading group and on the next climb, the first climb of the Mur, Wirtgen couldn’t hold on. The Belgian and the Luxembourger were later caught by Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida), who had attacked from the peloton. Bouwman, Carpenter and Rosskopf started the final 50 kilometre with a 2 minute lead.

There were many crashes in the bunch as the riders pushed for good positions. Ion Izagirre (Astana) and Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-Scott) came down on a bridge and 5 kilometres later Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data), Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) were also involved in a pile-up. On the Cherave: Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) couldn’t/didn’t stay with the pack. The early leaders were caught and Rosskopf rode at the head of the leaders on the second climb of the Mur.

The American would not last long and was caught at 28 kilometres out and the finalé could begin with just the final circuit around Huy with the Ereffe, Cherave and the Mur. Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) escaped before the Ereffe and took a 25 second lead. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) started the chase at the summit, but it was the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team who were in control.

Mohoric joined Marczynski at 9 kilometres, but the differences were small and on the Cherave, Enric Mas closed the gap with the peloton in tow. Alaphilippe was on the wheel of his Spanish Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammate with Michał Kwiatkowski (Sky) close by. A thinned-out peloton hammered towards the final climb of the murderous Mur, where the race would once again be decided.

Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) set the pace in the early part of the tough climb, but he soon had Kwiatkowski at his side. Jakob Fuglsang accelerated; Alaphilippe saw the danger and jumped on the wheel of the Dane, in a repeat of their pairing in Strade Bianche and the Amstel Gold Race. The pair pulled away from the others and the Frenchman had the better jump metres before the line to take his second Flèche Wallonne victory in a row.

2019 Flèche Wallonne winner, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Last year, I notched up my first big victory here, so being able to repeat that success gives me a lot of joy, but it tastes differently, because this edition was far more difficult. I am extremely proud of our team, who rode a perfect race, protected me from kilometer zero, chased down all the moves and always kept me in position. Being able to repay their hard work makes me very happy.”

Flèche Wallonne Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:55:15
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:06
4. Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:08
5. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
9. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:11
10. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Dimension Data
11. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
12. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
13. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
14. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida
15. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
16. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky
17. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:15
18. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Gobert at 0:19
19. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:23
20. Sergio Henao (Col) UAE Team Emirates at 0:25
21. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC
22. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 0:30
23. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First at 0:36
24. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 0:38
25. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:42.

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