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by Mark Zalewski
April 20, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Valverde takes record fifth Flèche Wallonne with characteristic surge; Anna van der Breggen pulls a hattrick in Flèche Wallonne; Thomas leads 1-2 Sky finish in Tour of the Alps, taking over race lead; Durasek wins snow-shortened stage at Tour of Croatia and takes lead; From hip fracture to Ardennes Classics contention: Ashleigh Moolman Pasio’s fight back from injury; Leif Hoste wins appeal against fine in doping case; Terpstra resumes training; Cycling safety advocate killed in collision with vehicle; Full Cycle returns to Australian TV from tonight; Video: La Flèche Wallonne highlights; Video: Why is it so hot inside a velodrome?; Video: Cycling South America.
He started the race as the clear favourite, and ended it as a record five-time winner. Alejandro Valverde put in an assertive performance to take Flèche Wallonne, surging clear on the final ascent of the Mur de Huy and soloing to victory. Dan Martin (QuickStep Floors) put in a late surge to take second behind the Movistar rider, while Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team) held off Sergio Henao (Team Sky) for third. Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) and Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) completed the top six.
Speaking afterwards, Valverde said that the win was no easier or tougher than his other four, ranking it as equal to those earlier successes. He said that he would aim to return again in 2018 and try to win again. The victory is the ninth of the season for Valverde, who seems – surprisingly – to be stronger than ever at 36 years of age.
“It was a victory of confidence, of strength and of having a great team at my side,” he said. “We had respect for the rivals, but I knew that I was in great physical condition and had to take advantage of it. We were convinced and the team was working from kilometre zero to be together at the end. Then we know that winning is very complicated because we only had one [rider], but the truth is that it is a race that I know well.
“Although it seems easy, it has been as difficult as my other triumphs here.”
As for Martin, his finishing pattern replicated those of other years. He was much further back than Valverde starting the final climb and had to make up a lot of ground. His second place follows third last year, second in 2014, fourth in 2013 and sixth in 2012.
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