This afternoon, Alejandro Valverde won the Flèche Wallonne for the fifth time. Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens turned up the Mur de Huy in a comfortable position, but didn’t finish on top ten.
After almost 150 kilometres, a front group of six started the first of three ascents of the Mur de Huy. At the top, four leaders were left. The peloton followed at one and a half minutes. It was mainly Movistar that had brought the bunch closer, after a maximal gap of over eight minutes. With 35.5 kilometres to go, Olivier Pardini was the last rider of the early break to be caught. Alessandro De Marchi attacked almost immediately. Ten kilometres further, Bob Jungels joined him. Another ten kilometres further, Jungels left De Marchi behind. In the meantime Tomasz Marczynski was keeping Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens in a good position in the bunch. Jungels started the last ascent of the Mur de Huy as leader of the race, but with not enough advantage. The winner would come from the reduced peloton. Alejandro Valverde was unbeatable. Dan Martin joined him on stage as second, Dylan Teuns was third. Jelle Vanendert crossed the finish as seventeenth, Tim Wellens as eighteenth.
Tim Wellens: “It was the plan to ride at the front of the pack all day long and so we did. Everyone knows the last ascent of Mur de Huy is decisive. Jungels did an ultimate attempt to get another outcome, but it came back together nonetheless. On the way to the Mur, I tried to move up in the bunch and get a good position, but on the Mur I didn’t have the legs anymore to follow the best riders in the race. That’s a pity, because I felt good all day long and had hoped for a place on top ten. As a team’s leader you hope for a better result than eighteenth of course, but the others were stronger. I wanted to see how far I would get on the Mur and that was not far enough. I have to recover now and focus on the fourth monument of the year: Liège-Bastogne-Liège. That’s my dream race.”