Alejandro Valverde of Movistar moved himself into sole possession of the record books with a textbook win atop the Mur de Huy today to take his fourth career victory at La Flèche Wallonne and his third in succession. Valverde allowed his strong Movistar team to operate on the front of the race and assure the usual bunch finish atop the iconic final climb, calmly maneuvered himself into position, and patiently allowed the Etixx-Quick Step duo of Daniel Martin and Julian Alaphilippe to work themselves into difficulty as the Spaniard glided past Martin in the final 50 meters for the victory.
The race saw various teams try various things, including Tim Wellens attacking with 5km remaining to catch the remnants of the breakaway and go into the race lead, taking a page out of the 2015 Tim Wellens playbook. But Movistar had people everywhere they needed to be, and the veteran patience to resist the fatally early maneuvering. Martin rode along the right side of the Mur as things heated up, looking poised to strike, and launched from the front, but with Valverde right next to him there was little he could do to shake the Spaniard, who got right on his wheel.
Quick Step clearly had a plan in mind, with Alaphilippe parked right on Valverde's wheel as the Spaniard prepared to come past Martin, and strategically I suppose that was all you could hope for. But sometimes a rider and a course are too well suited to each other for any particular strategy, and La Flèche/Valverde is one of those instances. He was too strong to be put in difficulty before the top of the Mur, and too fast a finisher for Alaphilippe to have a chance of outsprinting.
Valverde's third consecutive win ties Marcel Kint from days of yore, but in his overall victory total he stands alone, vaulting past Kint, Eddy Merckx, Moreno Argentin and (technically speaking) Davide Rebellin.
|1||Alejandro Valverde (ESP)||Movistar Team||4h 43' 57"|
|2||Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)||Etixx–Quick-Step||+ 0"|
|3||Dan Martin (IRL)||Etixx–Quick-Step||+ 0"|
|4||Wout Poels (NED)||Team Sky||+ 4"|
|5||Enrico Gasparotto (ITA)||Wanty–Groupe Gobert||+ 5"|
|6||Samuel Sánchez (ESP)||BMC Racing Team||+ 5"|
|7||Michael Albasini (SUI)||Orica–GreenEDGE||+ 5"|
|8||Diego Ulissi (ITA)||Lampre–Merida||+ 5"|
|9||Warren Barguil (FRA)||Giant–Alpecin||+ 5"|
|10||Rui Costa (POR)||Lampre–Merida||+ 5"|