Flèche Wallonne: Julian Alaphilippe dethrones Primož Roglič on Mur de Huy

Flèche Wallonne: Julian Alaphilippe dethrones Primož Roglič on Mur de Huy

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Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) countered a fearsome surge from Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) on the Mur de Huy to win Flèche Wallonne.

Roglič jumped with about 350m to go on the famous wall, and quickly opened a gap. Five-time winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Alaphilippe chased, and Roglič ran out of gas in the final 100m and opened the door for the world champion. Valverde crossed the line third.

“I wanted to show I had the legs to win,” Alaphilippe said. “It was such a hard race, but I really wanted to win.”

Bora-Hansgrohe drove the group to the base of the Mur de Huy, and two riders tried to jump at the red kite. Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) led a big group of about 30 favorites to the lower steep pitches to unleash the real battle. Roglič pressured at the front, and jumped with 300m to go.

“Julian passed me and he was the strongest, so he deserves to win,” Roglič said. “If I had stronger legs, I would win, huh? There is no philosophy on this last climb. If you have the legs, you go, and you win. I’m happy with the shape going into Liège. You always want to win, but like I said, I am happy with my level.”

Alaphilippe and Valverde gave chase, with the world champion coming past him in the final 50m for the win. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) came through fourth.

Alex Howes on the move, Tim Wellens jumps late

Fine weather welcomed the 85th edition of La Flèche Wallonne. UAE-Emirates were a final-hour non-starter following a pair of COVID cases within the team bubble. Follow-up tests suggested a false positive, and the team was hopeful to race Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.

That meant defending champion Marc Hirshi and Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar did not race.

Also read: No regrets for Tadej Pogačar after Itzulia raid

There were plenty of other favorites, and the race spiced up going into the final hours of racing.

A group inevitably pulled clear, and it started the annual tug-of-war between the peloton and the Mur de Huy. Attrition whittled down the front group to Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix), Maurits Lammertink (Intermarché-Wanty), Sander Armée (Qhubeka-Assos), Silvan Moniquet (Lotto-Soudal), and US champion Alex Howes (EF Education-Nippo) dangled about 1 minute off the front with two climbs left to go ahead of the final charge up the Mur.

Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Phil Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) were caught up in a crash with a touch of wheels with about 27km to go, but the break saw its margin quickly dwindling under pressure from the favorites.

Ineos Grenadiers and Groupama-FDJ piled it on to finish off the break with about 10km to go and bring the leaders to the base of the Mur. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soundal) jumped on the penultimate climb, with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) marking the wheel.

Omar Fraile (Astana-Premier Tech) jumped across to Wellens, putting pressure on the favorites’ group ahead of the Mur. Carapaz jumped again with 9.3km to go, but it was all for naught. The final dangler, Lammertink, was neutralized ahead of the final charge.

From there, the leaders turned on the rockets.

La Flèche Wallonne Results

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