Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) won 2019 Fleche Wallonne for the second year running, taking the victory ahead of Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) atop the famed Mur de Huy.
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang had led Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race only for Mathieu van der Poel to snatch away victory in a sprint finish.
However, Alaphilippe was not to be denied a second time.
“I think he (Fuglsang) was as disappointed as me not to have won the Amstel. We could have had a one-two, and here we again found ourselves in front,” said Alaphilippe, who also edged Fuglsang to win the Strade Bianche last month.
“The end wasn’t easy. Fuglsang is a very good rider who I respect a lot. He was difficult to beat.”
Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) secured third place ahead of young Belgian Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe).
Five-time former champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished 11th, a day ahead of his 39th birthday.
Adam Yates and Roman Kreuziger were knocked out of contention following a crash 30 kilometres from the finish, along with Ion Izagirre.
A group driven by Schachmann’s Bora team attempted to widen the gap after the second of three climbs of the Mur de Huy, but they were caught by a chasing pack led by the team-mates of Valverde and Alaphilippe.
Enric Mas, working in support of Alaphilippe, then pressed ahead with a steady tempo to ward off attacks, setting up the latter for another enthralling showdown with Fuglsang.
“It’s a race that is important to me,” said Alaphilippe, who was full of praise for his team-mates. “The Ardennes classics period is one I really like.”
“Last year, it was my first big win. It wasn’t easy wearing the number one jersey. I tried to detach myself from all the pressure.”
Fuglsang said he was pleased with his performance despite another near-miss.
“I’m happy to finish on the podium,” he said. “I’m happy with this result. I was more disappointed with my third place at the Amstel.
“Here, it was a good fight on the Mur de Huy knowing that this race is not necessarily made for my qualities.”
The third and final of this year’s Ardennes classics, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, takes place on Sunday.
Flèche Wallonne 2019 results:
|1||Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|2||Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)|
|3||Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)|
|4||Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal)|
|5||Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|6||Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)|
|7||Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|8||Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)|
|9||Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal)|
|10||Enrico Gasparotto (Dimension Data)|
|11||Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)|
|12||Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|13||Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|14||Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida)|
|15||Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma)|
|16||Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)|
|17||Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)|
|18||Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)|
|19||Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)|
|20||Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates)|