To beat the likes of Tadej Pogačar, Julian Alaphilippe and Alejandro Valverde, one would imagine the need for a world-ending effort, a ride that leaves the athlete in a puddle on the floor, completely spent from overhauling the boy wonder two-time Tour de France winner, a double world champion, and the Peter Pan-esque Spaniard who won his first Walloon Arrow the year before the first iPhone was released.
These laws of cycling physics didn’t seem to apply to Dylan Teuns, however, when the Bahrain Victorious rider crossed the line atop the Mur de Huy to win La Flèche Wallonne.
As the gradient gripped, the metres left to go dwindling, Teuns squeezed himself through the middle of Valverde and Aleksandr Vlasov. Pogačar also tried to surge before sitting back down in the saddle. Mur 1 Pog 0. Behind him, Alaphilippe swung his body and bike from side to side in vain.
As the rest bared their teeth with the effort of the chase, Teuns waited, Valverde drawing level before the Belgian kicked again, easily gapping the 41-year-old to deny him a record-enlarging sixth title. The Spaniard second, Vlasov third, Alaphilippe fourth. Pogačar was all the way down in 12th while Pidock DNFed, still clearly troubled.
Across the line with his hands held high, Teuns then came to a stop, taking a seat on a black plastic chair. After a few big gulps of air and a swig of water he was then back out of his seat and on his feet, celebrating with someone over the side of the barriers. Sitting in another seat for his post-race interview, his pristine condition more resembled a pre-race chin wag.
For the others as they faced the cameras, Alaphilippe said he simply didn’t have the legs, drool hanging from his mouth as he came to a stop, another winless day at the spring Classics for Quick-Step. Søren Kragh Andersen had reset his headset as he began the climb following an attack off the front, looking for a new average power that would hopefully see him emerge victorious.
It proved to be a wasted couple of clicks as the rest took over. And although Teuns has finished third here before, and displayed his form with a recent sixth at Flanders, few would have predicted he would prove mightiest when it came to today’s crescendo. While Marta Cavalli used cunning to overhaul Annemiek van Vleuten in the women’s race, raw watts per kilogram trumped tactical nous to best Movistar’s other veteran in the Ardennes.