Rebellin Wins Third Fleche Wallonne
Davide Rebellin (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) has won La Fleche Wallonne for the third time. The Italian won the sprint up the Mur de Huy to take the hilly, 195.5-km classic in 4:42:15. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) outsprinted defending champion Damiano Cunego (Lampre) for second at 0:02.
From the start, the racing was aggressive. After a series of abortive sallies, Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) and Fumiyuki Beppu (Skil) attacked at seven km. When the pair reached the base of the first ascent of the Mur (63.5 km), they led the peloton by 15:30. The peloton chased and cut the lead to 11:25 by the top of the second ascent of the Mur (96.5 km).
With 78 km left, Moreau dropped Beppu. Lampre led the pursuit, and with 61 km remaining, Moreau's advantage was down to 6:05.
With 43 km left, Enrico Gasparotto (Lampre) attacked. The resulting combustion formed a group of 17 chasers. The bunch snuffed out the move at the base of the Cote de Bohisseau, and Moreau was reeled in at the summit.
Near the top of the Cote de Bousalle, Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) and Alexander Kolobnev (Saxo Bank) attacked and took the lead. Jose Serpa (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) countered and forged a 0:15 lead with 20 km left.
Caisse d'Epargne led the peloton, which reeled in Serpa. Alexandre Botcharov (Katusha) attacked, and Michele Scarponi's (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) counter formed a six-man group that the bunch chased down. With nine km left, the bunch was together.
At the base of the Mur, Nicki Sorensen (Saxo Bank) attacked and David Lelay (Agritubel) countered. The Frenchman forged a five-second lead on the climb, which forced Cadel Evans (Silence) to chase. He towed Schleck and Rebellin, respectively. Evans reeled in Lelay, but Rebellin burst past the Austalian and held on to win.
Rebellin's third Fleche Wallonne victory placed him in distinguished company. Eddy Merckx, Marcel Kint, and Moreno Argentin are the only other riders who have won the race three times. Kint is the only rider to win three consecutive victories in this race (1943-45).
Many of the riders who rode La Fleche Wallonne will race in Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday. Among them will be Rebellin, who won both races in 2004. Will he repeat the feat in 2009? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!