Moreno Wins La Fleche Wallonne
Last year, the Russian squad put Joaquim Rodriguez on the top step of the podium. Today, Daniel Moreno, who usually works for Rodriguez, took the laurels. Moreno charged past Philippe Gilbert (BMC) in the last 100 m to win the hilly, 205-km classic in 4:52:33. Sergio Henao (Sky) outsprinted Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) for second at 0:03.
For most of this classics season, cold, overcast, often snowy conditions have greeted the riders. Today, however, the riders toiled under fair skies and in warm temperatures. At 20 km, Gilles Devilliers (Crelan-Euphony) and Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling) sallied off of the front. Eventually, Jurgen Van Goolen (Accent Job-Wanty) joined the move, and the trio led the field by more than nine minutes at 50 km. The lead hovered at about that point for about the next 30 km.
BMC led the pursuit on behalf of Gilbert. At the summit of the first ascent of the Mur de Huy, the lead was down to 6:15. With 65 km remaining, the gap between bunch and break was below three minutes. When it dropped to under a minute, a number of riders attempted to join the break. With 45 km to go, the peloton reeled in the escapees on the Cote de Bohisseau.
Laurens Ten Dam (Blanco) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) attacked. On the second ascent of the Mur de Huy, Bardet fell back, but Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) joined Ten Dam in the lead. With 25 km to go, the pair led the BMC-paced peloton by 0:09.
On the Cote d’Amay, Ten Dam and Bardet led the field by 0:22. BMC accelerated. Richie Porte (Sky) was dropped. On the day’s next-to-last climb, the Cote de Villers de Bouillet, the peloton was within 0:05 of the leaders.
Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) attacked from the peloton, and the resulting combustion reeled in the fugitives. Jerome Pineau (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) did the pacemaking, and Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) was dropped. With 8.5 km left, the field was together on the final approach to the Mur de Huy.
Blanco led the field up the climb. Betancur made the first move. Gilbert led the pursuit, and Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Moreno, and Henao took his wheel. Moreno and Henao burst past the Belgian and reeled in Betancur in the last 50 m. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), who had punctured with about 20 km to go, nearly caught Betancur for third.
The women's La Fleche Wallonne 2013 was won by Marianne Vos.
Today’s riders will cross paths again at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday. How will they fare? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!