Dan Martin buries himself on Mur de Huy but Valverde takes it
Dan Martin looks less than chuffed on the podium today as Alejandro Valverde beat him once again in Fleche Wallonne. On the right is Dylan Teuns of BMC Racing team who rode a fabulous race.
By Brian Canty
Dan Martin has finished second at Fleche Wallonne this afternoon as Alejandro Valverde won the race for a record fifth time.
He annihilated the field, turning on an incredible show of strength in the final
Martin rode a textbook race to finish second after he left his jump late as usual.
He came around third place Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team) and Sergio Henao (Team Sky) in the final metres.
Martin equalled his best result in the race with second again. But he could not have done any more today as Valverde was simply on another level.
There were nine climbs to contend with, including three ascents of the Mur de Huy where the race finished.
And as is always the case with Fleche Wallonne, the main contenders keep their powder dry until as late as possible.
Valverde takes it from Dan Martin, far right. The Spaniard was far too strong for everybody else.
For the majority of the field however, it was all about getting up the road.
And the ‘lucky’ ones to break free today were Fabien Doubey (Wanty-Gobert), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) and Nils Politt (Katusha Alpecin).
With them was Romain Guillemois (Direct Energie), Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport), and Olivier Pardini (WB Veranclassic).
Politt, Bagot and Pardini went first before the other trio joined in a very strong counter-attack.
Their gap swelled to over six minutes at one point. Movistar then went to the front to bring them back. And the gap was down to 3:43 with 82km to go.
The course for the race was different to other years which gave way to more aggressive racing. This time the three final climbs came closer together.
The break was swallowed up and the inevitable showdown unfolded. And Valverde went to the front as the road rose up, proving unstoppable.
Martin deployed a different strategy, starting the ascent further back and leaving his surge as late as possible.
Wed, April 19th: Fleche-Wallone (200km)
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors
3 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
5 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott
6 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
8 Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJ
9 David Gaudu (Fra) FDJ
10 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates