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by Shane Stokes
April 19, 2018
Alaphilippe wins Flèche Wallonne; A fourth win for Anna van der Breggen at Flèche Wallonne; O’Connor wins stage 3 of Tour of the Alps with solo break; Grosu wins stage 2 of the Tour of Croatia; Cavendish to make return from injury at Tour of Yorkshire; Another Belgian rider plus a triathlete die suddenly; Cane Creek release fourth generation of eeBrakes, the G4; FloBikes.com acquires rights to livestream Giro d’Italia and other WorldTour races in North America; Scott Bicycles alerts consumers to fraudulent websites; ‘Two year rollercoaster at Chain Reaction Cycles”; Video: Le Coq sportif – when history inspires the present
Previously second in the race in 2015 and 2016, Julian Alaphilippe converted promise into achievement on Wednesday, winning Flèche Wallonne with an assertive performance. He became the first French winner of the race in 27 years, beating Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) by four seconds, and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal), Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) and several others by six.
Valverde had taken the last four editions of the Classic, as well as winning in 2006. He started as the clear favourite but many others threw everything at him and his Movistar Team, including Milan-San Remo winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). He went clear 45 kilometres from the line and teamed up with Australia’s Jack Haig (Mitchelton Scott) plus four others, with he, Haig, Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) and Tanel Kangert (Astana) then pushing ahead.
Nibali and Kangert were caught inside the final two kilometres, while the other two succumbed on the finishing climb of the Mur de Huy. Alaphilippe then judged things to perfection, striking out for victory and opening a gap over the hard-chasing defending champion.
“Finishing twice behind Alejandro Valverde, it was first a surprise and then a huge frustration but also a confirmation. I really wanted to win a big race, and to win today, la Flèche Wallonne, ahead of Alejandro Valverde, it’s something special. I didn’t even know I had won. I thought Nibali was still ahead Jelle Vanvendert set a high tempo during the whole climb. I was feeling good and then I pushed as hard as possible until the line and I saw nobody came past me. My cousin told me right after that it was good.
“The tactic was easy: I was the sole leader for Quick-Step. I was in a perfect position for the Mur and then the legs spoke.”