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Valverde wins Fleche Wallonne again
22 Apr 2015 17:05
Alejandro Valverde has won the gruelling Fleche Waloon classic for the second year in succession as he out-sprinted the pelaton on the uphill finish at Mur de Huy in Belgium.
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The Spaniard proved too powerful on the final ascent up the steep finish, translated as the Wall of Huy, which is 128 metres high, as the back-to-back winner steered clear of Julian Alaphilippe and Michael Albasini who finished second and third respectively.
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Movistar rider Vlaverde once again proved his Classic credentials as he joins an all-star list of three-time winners, his other victory coming in 2006.
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Nicolas Roche proved best of the Irish as the Team Sky rider finished 27th, 23 seconds behind Valverde, who finished the 205.5km-race in 5h 08’ 22”.
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Other Irish entrants Dan Martin and Philip Deignan both withdrew from the race.
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Martin suffered a bad crash on the first approach to the Mur de Huy as he touched the wheel of Tiago Machado.
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The Cannondale-Garmin rider was one of the pre-race favourites, however, his challenge was effectively over and Martin failed to complete the course.
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Valverde joins Belgians Eddy Merckx and Marcel Kint as well as Italians Davide Rebellin and Moreno Argentin as triple Fleche champions.
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"It was really a very hard day, with a lot of crashes and a lot of tension," Valverde was quoted as saying by Cyclingnews.com.
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"I can't remember such a tense day for a long time."
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Valverde powered away from the thinned-out pack with about 200 metres left in the Mur de Huy, a 1.3-km ascent at an average gradient of 9.6 percent to beat France's Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step).
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Swiss Albasini was third for Orica Green-EDGE in a crash-marred race that saw 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome hit the tarmac 12 kilometres from the finish. The Team Sky rider, one of the pre-race favourites for this year's Tour, went back on his bike with bruises on his left thigh and crossed the line 12 minutes and 19 seconds off the pace.
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