Huy, Belgium, April 19, 2017 (AFP) – On-form Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde notched up a record fifth win in the Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday, with Ireland’s Dan Martin taking second at the summit finish on the Mur de Huy. The Movistar rider, who turns 37 next week, has made the Ardennes classic his own since 2014, winning four straight editions a decade after claiming his first success in 2006.
Luxembourg’s Bob Jungels launched an attack before the Cote de Cherave but was caught on the third and final ascent of the Mur de Huy, leaving the seasoned Valverde to again claim the honors. He saw off Martin by one second at the end of the 204.5 kilometre ride with
Belgian rider Dylan Teuns completing the podium in third.
“The Ardennes classics are courses that I love. I feel a bit like I’m at
home here,” said Valverde. “I’m in excellent physical condition, I had to take advantage of it. “The team worked right from the first kilometre, we had the belief we were going to win. It’s a course that suits me very well, it’s made to measure for me.” It was a remarkable 10th win of the season for the Spaniard, who vowed to return to Fleche Wallonne next year before throwing down the challenge to his rivals ahead of Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Valverde is a three-time winner (2006, 2008 and 2015) of the event billed as one of cycling’s five “Monument” races. For Martin, it was the second time in four years the Irishman was denied by Valverde and his third podium finish here. “I came second again, it looks like I’ll have to wait for Valverde to retire,” Martin said after the race. The Quick-Step rider was runner-up to the Spaniard in 2014 and came third a year ago.