Fleche Wallonne: Philippe Gilbert wins again

Belgian on fire in the Ardennes classics

Three days after a commanding win at the Amstel Gold Race, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) proved he has no peers on testing uphill finishes with a resounding victory in La Flèche Wallonne.

The 28-year-old Belgian powered off the front of the peloton on the upper slopes of the Mur de Huy and had ample breathing room to celebrate his first victory in the Ardennes mid-week Classic.

Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) again finished runner-up to Gilbert, as he did in the Amstel Gold Race, three seconds off the pace while compatriot Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) rounded out the top three a further two seconds back.

Classic build-up towards hill zone

Soon after leaving the start town Charleroi a breakaway of four riders wasted no time in going on the attack. The quartet, comprised of Matti Helminen (Landbouwkrediet), Maxime Vantomme (Katusha), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and Maciej Paterski (Liquigas-Cannondale), quickly opened up an ample gap on the peloton and just before their first passage of the Mur de Huy reached a maximum lead of 17 minutes.

Van Hecke was the first to cross the line on top of the Mur, although sadly enough for the Belgian there were still 131km to race. The Saxo Bank Sungard and Leopard Trek teams of race favourites Alberto Contador and the Schleck brothers started working from there and with 80km to go the gap was reduced to 10 minutes.

Team Sky provided some horsepower to the chasing work and 30km later, at the Côte d'Ahin, less than five minutes separated the leaders and the peloton.

An attack from Blel Kadri (AG2R La Mondiale) after the Ahin lifted the speed in the peloton even more but the French rider's attack was in vain.

Outsiders seize their chances after second ascent of Mur

With 30km remaining the Mur was climbed for a second time with he Omega Pharma-Lotto team pacing their leaders Philippe Gilbert and Jurgen Van Den Broek to the foot of the climb.

Van Hecke once again led the three remaining escapees over the Mur - Helminen was dropped - but their lead had been reduced to one minute over the peloton.

After the penultimate ascent of the Mur four riders attacked from the peloton, trying to catch the favourites off guard: Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Russian champion Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), Thomas Lövkvist (Sky) and Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad).

Several more riders bridged to the chasing quartet, first Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar) and later Michal Golas (Vacansoleil-DCM).

With 20km to go the three remaining leaders were caught, creating a new group of 10 leaders; the Omega Pharma-Lotto led peloton with all the favourites followed at 20 seconds.

Countdown to the Mur finale

Soon after the merge was made at the front Thomas Lövkvist went out on the attack and was joined by Vasili Kiryienka. The duo pushed out a lead of 23 seconds while the other escapees were absorbed, but they, too, were brought back with 8km remaining under the impetus of Katusha and Omega Pharma-Lotto.

Immediately after Lövkvist and Kiryienka were caught a counter-attack escaped containing Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step) and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM). The pair went under the flamme rouge for the final ascent of the Mur du Huy with a 14-second lead, but the duo were soon swept up by the peloton's heads of state vying for position in the Flèche Wallonne's endgame.

HTC-Highroad's Michael Albasini set a strong tempo early on the climb, closely followed by Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek), while Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) waited patiently in the wings for his moment to strike.

Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) provided the perfect launch pad for Gilbert, as the Frenchman accelerated with approximately 400m remaining only to have Gilbert counter with his own decisive strike, leaving the other contenders floundering in his wake.

Results

1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 4:54:57
2 Joaquím Rodríguez Olivier (Spa) Katusha 0:00:03
3 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:05
4 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:00:06
5 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
7 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:09
9 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:12
10 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team
11 Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:15
12 Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad 0:00:17
13 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:18
14 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:20
15 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
16 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
17 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:23
18 Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack 0:00:26
19 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:28
20 Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
21 Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Pro Team Astana
22 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling
23 Philip Deignan (Irl) Team RadioShack
24 Chris Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
25 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad
26 Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Skil - Shimano
27 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
28 Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
29 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:00:33
30 Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:00:34
31 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:36
32 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
33 Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
34 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
35 Thomas Degand (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
36 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team
37 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ
38 Marc De Maar (AHo) Quickstep Cycling Team
39 Cédric Pineau (Fra) FDJ 0:00:42
40 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:00:43
41 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:49
42 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack
43 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
44 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
45 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
46 Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
47 Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:00:53
48 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:54
49 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team
50 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
51 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team
52 Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad 0:01:00
53 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana
54 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:04
55 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:01:09
56 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:01:10
57 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
58 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ
59 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack 0:01:14
60 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
61 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:19
62 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana 0:01:20
63 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team
64 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Leopard Trek
65 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
66 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team 0:01:24
67 Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
68 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
69 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
70 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
71 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:01:30
72 Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
73 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Skil - Shimano
74 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:38
75 Francesco Reda (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
76 Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling 0:01:40
77 Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Skil - Shimano
78 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:42
79 Addy Engels (Ned) Quickstep Cycling Team
80 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Katusha Team 0:01:44
81 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:01:49
82 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha Team 0:01:55
83 Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:02:06
84 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling 0:02:13
85 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:02:18
86 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:02:20
87 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:02:23
88 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:02:28
89 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad
90 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:02:34
91 Iván Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
92 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
93 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana 0:02:37
94 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:02:44
95 Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:02:58
96 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:12
97 Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet 0:04:17
98 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
99 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:04:34
100 Yuriy Trofimov (Rus) Katusha Team
101 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - ISD
102 Kjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Procycling
103 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:04:38
104 Thierry Hupond (Fra) Skil - Shimano 0:04:45
105 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:04:55
106 Simone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
107 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team
108 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:04:59
109 Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil - Shimano
110 Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:05:02
111 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:05:07
112 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent 0:05:40
113 Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ 0:06:16
114 Gianni Meersman (Bel) FDJ
115 Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
116 Matthew Busche (USA) Team RadioShack
117 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek
118 David Lelay (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
119 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
120 Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
121 Peter Stetina (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:06:22
122 Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale
123 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:06:26
124 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team 0:06:28
125 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
126 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
127 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:07:01
128 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo
129 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:07:22
130 Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:09:58
131 Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
132 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
133 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team
134 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team RadioShack
135 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:10:03
136 Matti Helminen (Fin) Landbouwkrediet
137 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:10:05
138 Gert Dockx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:10:12
139 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNF Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano
DNF Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
DNF Benjamin Gourgue (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNF Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNF Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) FDJ
DNF Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ
DNF Laurent Mangel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun
DNF Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil - Shimano
DNF Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNF Thomas Bonnin (Fra) Skil - Shimano
DNF Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
DNF Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
DNF Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
DNF Arnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ
DNF Gregory Habeaux (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNF Bram Schmitz (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNF Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNF Anders Lund (Den) Leopard Trek
DNF Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNF Jacobus Venter (RSA) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNF Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNF Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNF Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNF Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team
DNF Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNF Mads Christensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNF Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNF Rémi Cusin (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne
DNF Sven Van Den Houte (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNF Rui Costa (Por) Movistar
DNF Brian Vandborg (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNF Nelson Oliveira (Spa) Team RadioShack
DNF Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team RadioShack
DNF Caleb Fairly (USA) HTC-Highroad
DNF Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Highroad
DNF Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
DNF Michel Kreder (Ned) Team Garmin-Cervelo
DNF Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo
DNF Stefan Denifl (Aut) Leopard-Trek
DNF Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNF Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNF Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNF Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNF Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNF Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNF Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNF Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
DNF Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling
DNF Stephen Cummings (GBr) Sky Procycling
DNF Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky Procycling
DNF Julien Vermote (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team
DNF José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Movistar
DNF Timothy Duggan (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNS Dominik Nerz (Ger) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNS Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Movistar

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com

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