Alejandro Valverde’s stellar start to the season continued on Wednesday when the Spaniard won a fourth consecutive Fleche Wallonne title and a record fifth in the Ardennes classic race.
Valverde, who has won the Tour of Murcia, Tour of Andalusia, Tour of Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country this year, powered away some 150 metres from the line on the punishing Mur de Huy.
Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors) was second, one second behind, with Dylan Teuns (BMC) taking third place.
France’s David Gaudu, at 20 the youngest rider in the bunch, attacked with 250 metres left but Valverde was lying in wait and accelerated shortly afterwards to add a fourth consecutive win to the Fleche title he claimed in 2006.
“It was a victory based on confidence, strength and a great team supporting me all the way”, said Valverde. “I had lots of respect to what my rivals could do, but also knew that I was in great physical condition, and I had to take advantage from it. We believed we could win it again, and the whole team worked from the very first kilometer to keep the race together before the finish. There were plenty of attacks into the final 50km by riders from Quick Step and BMC, but ourselves, as well as Orica who took a big share of the work in the finale, made sure it all came down to the last Huy climb. We knew it would still be difficult to win there, because only one can achieve it and many fight for it, but to be honest, this feels like a race made for me.
Fleche Wallonne 2017 results:
|1||Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)||5:15:37|
|2||Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors)||,,|
|3||Dylan Theuns (BMC)||,,|
|4||Sergio Henao (Team Sky)||,,|
|5||Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott)||,,|
|6||Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb)||,,|
|7||Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)||,,|
|8||Rudy Molard (FDJ)||,,|
|9||David Gaudu (FDJ)||,,|
|10||Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)||,,|
|11||Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac)||,,|
|12||Ion Izagirre (Bahrain Merida)||,,|
|13||Romain Bardet (AG2R)||+08”|
|14||Pierre Latour (AG2R)||,,|
|15||Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo)||,,|
|16||Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe)||,,|
|17||Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal)||+13”|
|18||Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)||,,|
|19||Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe)||,,|
|20||Jonathan Hivert (Direct Energie)||+16”|