Two riders stamped their authority all the way up the Mur du Huy today. Anna van der Breggen (Rabobank-Liv) repeated her 2015 victory at La Fleche Wallonne Feminine claiming the podium top step from Boels-Dolmans duo Evelyn Stevens and third placed Megan Guarnier. History was also made in the men’s race with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) providing a masterclass in waiting for the ‘opportune moment’ on his way to win number four. Etixx-Quick Step claimed second and third courtesy of Julian Alaphilippe and Dan Martin.
Rider of the Race
This decision is a straight out duel between the two victors. I take nothing away from Valverde’s achievement: he might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no denying he knows how to attack and win on the Mur de Huy. However, I choose to go Dutch with Anna van der Breggen.
She attacked on the Cote de Cherave, dug deep on the Mur de Huy and held off a determined effort by Stevens – herself a former winner of this race. But you know what I loved best about her post race interview? When it was mentioned that she only needed two more wins to equal Valverde she replied, “yes, but Marianne [Vos ed.] has five.” #HellYeah Anna!
Plenty of candidates for this title, but I’m picking Mads Pedersen from Team Stölting. Not only was it his first WorldTour race but it was also that of his team, and getting into the break of the day was a big goal.
It took a long time for a suitable break to establish, and when it did there were no Stölting riders within it’s ranks. In his own words from the team report:
“The start of the race was very fast and we missed the break of nine, so I attacked behind. It took me around 25 km to close the gap, but I managed to get across and we were working well together.”
Mads didn’t finish the race, but his contribution was another good result for the young Dane. Mark that name!
There really was a sense of inevitability about the finish of the men’s race. As Alex Howes (Cannondale) comments in his Velo News interview – “The race only suits five guys, five guys who have a realistic chance of winning it.” So how can the race organisers change it up at Fleche Wallonne? Twitter has the answers…
Views from the peloton
We love that Giant Alpecin’s Chad Haga is back racing and fighting his battles where he can.
Wawa is Warren Barguil‘s nickname, and the sweet leadout brought a ninth place.
Final results Fleche Wallonne Feminine
1 Anna van der Breggen (Rabobank-Liv) 3:50:36
2 Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) +0:08
3 Megan Guarnieri (Boels-Dolmans) +0.22
4 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabobank-Liv) +0:23
5 Elisa Longho Borghini (Wiggle High5) +0:25
Final results Fleche Wallonne
1 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 4:43:57
2 Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) same time
3 Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step)) s/t
4 Wout Poels (Sky) +0:04
5 Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Group Gobert) +0:05
Featured Image: Mur de Huy royalty: Alejandro Valverde and Anna van der Breggen. Credit Bryn Lennon via Getty Images.