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FLÈCHE WALLONNE’22: Teuns Trumps Valverde In The Final Metres!

La Flèche Wallonne Race Report: As usual the final result of La Flèche Wallonne was decided in the last steep metres. Just when it looked like Alejandro Valverde was going to make history, Dylan Teuns of Bahrain-Victorious fought off the ‘old man’ of Movistar off for the win. Valverde second, Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA-hansgrohe) third and World champion Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) in fourth.

The final K

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Dylan Teuns was the strongest in the final metres

Dylan Teuns won the 2022 Flèche Wallonne. After a race of more than 202 kilometres, which only split deep in the final, the Belgian leader of Bahrain-Victorious was the best on the very steep Mur de Huy. He finished ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Aleksandr Vlasov.

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Starting for the first time in Blegny

The Route:
The parcours of Flèche Wallonne has changed a little, for the first time the start is from Blegny, a village with just under 13,000 inhabitants, right between Liège and Maastricht. There is then 115 kilometres with two climbs; the Côte de Tancrémont and Côte des Forges after 44 and 55 kilometres, but the route goes up and down continuously. At 80 kilometres the peloton tackles the Côte d’Ereffe for the first time, 2 kilometres at 5.8%. From there it is only 18.5 kilometres to the Mur de Huy. Between, there is also the Côte de Cherave, which was replaced last year by the new Côte du Chemin des Geuses. 1.4 kilometres long at 7.9%, the Cherave is a lot steeper, and only 5.7 kilometres before the Mur.

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Flèche’22 map and profile

The iconic Mur is 1.2 kilometres at 10.4%, but between 800 and 200 metres from the summit, the gradients rarely go below 15%. On the inside of the corners it goes up to 20%. The race goes over the Mur three times at 62 and 31 kilometres and the finish, the last 200 metres are steep and crucial.

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The green Walloon countryside

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The (failed) break of the day

A first escape attempt by Ruben Apers and Sébastien Reichenbach failed, but after 30 kilometres eight riders managed to escape: Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Fenix), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies), Simon Guglielmi (Arkea-Samsic), Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech), Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Morten Hulgaard (Uno-X). Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise missed the move and so Luc Wirtgen and Jens Reynders counter-attacked. After a long chase they joined, creating a leading group of ten men. INEOS Grenadiers, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and UAE Team Emirates led the peloton at more than 3 minutes.

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Always a favourite for any race he rides – Tadej Pogačar

The front riders started the three local circuits with a lead of about 2 minutes. These laps included the Côte d’Ereffe (2km at 5.5%), Côte de Cherave (1.4km at 7.9%) and the Mur de Huy (1.2km at 10.4%). On the first passage of the Mur, more than 60 kilometres from the finish, the leading group still had 1 minute in hand. Tom Pidcock had been working on the front early in the race and abandoned.

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Mauri Vansevenant leading the peloton for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl

Just after the summit, Bahrain Victorious tried to make the race harder, but the team did not do more than thin out the peloton. Meanwhile, Armirail, Janssens, Ferron, Guglielmi and Impey were still at the front on the second ascent of the Côte d’Ereffe. They had Jan Bakelants after them, as he had counter-attacked alone, but he was quickly brought back.

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The peloton on the first climb of the Mur de Huy

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Bahrain put the pressure on

There was bad luck for top favourite Tadej Pogačar, who had a puncture more than 40 kilometres from the finish. He was only able to rejoin the peloton just before the Côte de Cherave, just as EF Education-EasyPost accelerated and Simon Carr got away. It was too fast for Jumbo-Visma leader Jonas Vingegaard and he was dropped, but was able to return in the run-up to the final of the race.

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The peloton had thinned a bit by the second climb of the Huy

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Simon Carr of EF Education-EasyPost crossed to the break and then attacked

The second pass of the Huy was climbed by a large peloton and despite some attacks, everything stayed together as they started the third lap. The leading group got bigger off the front as Carr joined the five. Carr then attacked the escape group together with the Frenchman Ferron. They managed to stay out of the peloton’s grip the longest, but were eventually caught 9 kilometres before the finish.

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UAE and INEOS chased

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Simon Carr was joined by Valentin Ferron of TotalEnergies

As the race started the last climbs, it was mainly INEOS Grenadiers and Bahrain-Victorious who were in control, while the other favourites positioned themselves as near the front as they could. On the final time up the Côte de Cherave, Cofidis attacked for Rémy Rochas. He had Mauri Vansevenant and Søren Kragh Andersen with him, but on the descent Rochas was unable to keep up with the Dane’s pace. Vansevenant then played the team game and sat on Kragh Andersen and didn’t help.

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Søren Kragh Andersen and Mauri Vansevenant Mauri – The last to be caught before the finish

The gap with the leading duo was 20 seconds, but at the foot of the Mur de Huy for the last time, that was closed to 10 seconds. At 900 metres from the finish, a regrouping followed, after which it was up to the top men. Movistar took the lead for Alejandro Valverde.

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La Flèche could have gone to Alejandro Valverde… again

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Dylan Teuns took control in the last metres

More than 300 meters before the finish, Aleksandr Vlasov and Valverde then started their sprint, but they were outflanked by Dylan Teuns. Bahrain’s climbing specialist set the pace and caused other favourites like Pogačar and Alaphilippe to crack. Vlasov also dropped out and Valverde also couldn’t counter Teuns’ acceleration in the last 100 metres. Teuns took the win ahead of Valverde, Vlasov, Alaphilippe and Daniel Felipe Mártinez.

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Classic win for Teuns

2022 Flèche Wallonne winner, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Victorious): “I have no words for it. It is unbelievable. I have always dreamed of this. I was in the perfect position at the start of the Mur du Huy. At 500 metres from the finish I was briefly closed in by a riders from BORA-hansgrohe and Movistar (Aleksandr Vlasov and Enric Mas), but I knew from Alejandro Valverde where he was going to accelerate. He always does that in the same place and that’s perfect for me too. I felt I had something left and I kept going. Maybe the strongest rider won today, yes. I’ve never been so strong in the spring. I’m always good in the summer, but in the spring sometimes great and sometimes not so much. But now I race very constantly all spring. I’ve always secretly dreamt of this. I have always believed in myself. It is exactly five years since I was on the podium here and I have continued to believe that one day it would still work.”

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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Victorious) and Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA-hansgrohe)

La Flèche Wallonne Result:
1. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Victorious in 4:42:12
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:02
3. Aleksandr Vlasov (-) BORA-hansgrohe
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl at 0:05
5. Daniel Felipe Martínez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:07
6. Michael Woods (Can) Israel-Premier Tech
7. Ruben Guerreiro (Port) EF Education-EasyPost
8. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
9. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa Samsic
10. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) TotalEnergies.

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