La Flèche Wallonne: Dylan Teuns powers to win ahead of Alejandro Valverde
Bahrain-Victorious rider holds off a late charge from Valverde to win on Mur de Huy.
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Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Victorious) took a dramatic win at La Flèche Wallonne with a sensational victory over five-time winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished third, with world champion Julian Alaphilippe taking fourth on the Muur de Huy.
Teuns hit the front inside the final 400m and lined up against Valverde and Vlasov as the trio hogged the front of the vastly reduced peloton. Movistar had set a furious pace on the lower slopes of the climb with Enric Mas (Movistar) stretching out the lead group in a bid to set up his teammate, Valverde.
However, it was Teuns who was the first rider to stretch his legs with a sustained attack. The move was enough to close out the chances of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who simply had no response, and Alaphilippe, who never looked to be in real contention once the final climb started.
Valverde was able to hang on to Teuns’ first move, and appeared to draw level with the Bahrain-Victorious rider with just under 100m to go. It looked as though the five-time winner would have the experience and knowhow to seal another time but when Teuns put in another, even more decisive, dig and the veteran Spanish rider was forced to yield.
Teuns, 30, finished third in the race back in 2017 but his victory Wednesday represented the biggest one-day win of his career.
How the race unfolded
After the end of the cobbled classics, the Ardennes returned to center stage at La Flèche Wallonne.
Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope) won the women’s edition in fine style with a well-timed attack on the final climb and the men’s race would follow a similar pattern.
A 10-rider move escaped in the early kilometers with Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Fenix), Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Jens Reynders (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Chris Juul Jensen (BikeExchange-Jayco), Luc Wirtgen (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces), Morten Hulgaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies), Daryl Impey (Israel-PremierTech), and Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM) going clear.
The group worked well together and held a healthy lead until the race dipped into the final 100km.
The gap dropped to two minutes with 88km to go but by the time the race crested the first climb of the Côte d’Ereffe the lead was down to just over two minutes.
EF Education-EasyPost, Ineos Grenadiers continued to keep the pace high as the peloton took on the Côte de Cherave, and on the first of three ascents of the Mur de Huy both Wirtgen and Reynders were dropped by the break.
🏆 What a finish by 🇧🇪@dylan_teuns! 💪
🏆 Quel sprint de 🇧🇪@dylan_teuns ! 💪#FlecheWallonne pic.twitter.com/iI34laLWgI
— La Flèche Wallonne (@flechewallonne) April 20, 2022
It was a similar situation for the beleaguered Tom Pidcock with the Ineos rider climbing off his bike after the first loop over the iconic Belgian climb.
Bahrain assumed control of the peloton as the race dipped into the final 60km with the entire team hitting the front behind Luis Leon Sanchez. That acceleration brought the gap to the break down to 48 seconds but a brief lull in pace allowed Jan Bakelants (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) to attack in an attempt to link up with the remnants of the early break.
Back in the bunch, Pogačar was forced to stop due to a front wheel puncture, but the race dynamic flipped again when Alberto Bettiol set up Simon Carr (EF Education), who put in a vicious attack on the Cherave with 37km to go.
The British rider put everything into the move and his efforts were rewarded when he linked up with Impey, Janssens, Ferron, and Armirail.
Carr kicked again with 20km to go, and only Ferron could match the pace this time, as behind them Bahrain-Victorious once more controlled the peloton at 19 seconds. Ineos Grenadiers chipped in with Geraint Thomas leading the charge and with 15km to go the gap stood at 15 seconds. Carr and Ferron were eventually caught at the foot of the Côte de Cherave.
Cofidis attacked with three riders on the climb with Remy Rochas eventually dragging Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) with him. The pair had little chance to collaborate, with Søren Kragh Andersen putting in a huge attack that only Vansevenant could hold.
It looked as though the Dane would cause a major upset, even with Vansevenant unwilling to cooperate. The duo was eventually reeled in with 900m to go, just as Movistar took control in a bid to deliver Valverde to his sixth title.
Results will be available once stage has completed.