Marc Hirschi victorious at Flèche Wallonne
After an incredible three weeks at the Tour de France followed by a podium at the World Championships, 22-year old Marc Hirschi took a lovely victory at the top of the Mur de Huy. The Team Sunweb rider from Switzerland narrowly took the win over AG2R la Mondiale’s Benoit Cosnefroy and EF Pro Cycling’s Michael Woods.
How It Happened
A break of four riders had over a six-minute advantage on the peloton as the race approached the 100km to go mark. Although various riders tried to bridge to the break, by the first ascent of the Mur de Huy the advantage for the four leaders was still over six minutes, with two chasers three and a half minutes behind, and Sunweb, clearly confident in its young star, leading the charge in the peloton.
On the penultimate ascent of the Mur de Huy, with 32.2km to go, Mauri Vansevenant, the German rider from Deceuninck-Quick Step, set the pace for the breakaway. Only two minutes separated the escapees from the main peloton, with two chasers in between.
In the peloton, more attacks went over the top of the Mur, but the Ineos Grenadiers were not about to let anyone else escape.
Into the final lap of the race, Vansevenant along with Mathijs Paasschens of Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles had gone clear of their other two breakaway companions. As the two approached the Côte d’Ereffe Vanseveant dropped Paasschens to go for the win alone.
With 20km to go and just over a minute ahead of the peloton, it was unlikely Vansevenant was going to stay away to the end, as more attacks from the peloton pushed the pace behind the 21-year old rider.
A few single riders tried their luck on the Côte d’Ereffe, including former World Champion Rui Costa, who managed to stay clear for a few kilometers before eventually getting swallowed by the peloton near the base of the Côte du Chemin des Gueuses, the penultimate climb of the race.
On the Côte du Chemin des Gueuses Rigoberto Uran put in a dig, separating himself from the peloton and quickly putting some daylight between himself and the rest. He only had 45 seconds to close to get to Vansevenant.
With 3km to go Uran and Vansevenant joined forces. Uran caught Vansevenant after an ill-timed meeting with the bushes on the side of the road by the Belgian rider. Vansevenant jumped up quickly, however, and was able to continue the fight beside Uran.
The efforts by the two were for naught and the peloton, led by UEA-Team Emirates and the Ineos Grenadiers, caught Uran and Vansevenant at the base of the Mur de Huy.
The first of the favorites to put in a dig was Richie Porte of Trek-Segafredo in the final 400 meters. Porte did not get any distance, with Hirschi hot on his heels. Next it was Michael Woods of EF Pro Cycling, in the final 150 meters, but he couldn’t hold on long enough for the victory.
Marc Hirschi, who won a stage of the Tour de France, was the most aggressive rider for the three weeks, and who placed third at the World Championships in Imola, took the first Classics win of his career.
Another young rider, Benoit Cosnefroy, who wore the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France until stage 17, sprinted to second on the day and Michael Woods took the final podium step.
1. Marc Hirschi SUN, 4:49:17
2. Benoit Cosnefroy ALM, st
3. Michael Woods EF1, st
4. Warren Barguil ARK, st
5. Dan Martin ISN, st
6. Michal Kwiatowski IGD, st
7. Patrick Conrad BOH, +0:05
8. Richie Porte TSF, st
9. Tadej Pogacar UAE, st
10. Simon Geschke CCC, +0:10