Valverde Wins La Fleche Wallonne

News & Results

04/20/2006| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Valverde takes the win ahead of Sanchez and Kroon. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Valverde takes the win ahead of Sanchez and Kroon. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Valverde Wins La Fleche Wallonne

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) has won La Fleche Wallonne.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) has won
La Fleche Wallonne. The Spaniard outsprinted three companions to take the 202-km Belgian classic in 4:42:45. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) finished second, and Karsten Kroon (Team CSC) nipped teammate Frank Schleck for third.



The race took place in sunny conditions. After a couple of abortive sallies, Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r) and Frederic Finot (Francaise des Jeux) attacked at about 30 km . The pair ran up a 7:35 lead by 95 km .


Milram and Discovery Channel began to chase. By 108 km , the fugitives? lead was down to 4:08. At 110 km , Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Andriy Grivko (Milram), Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner), Jorg Jaksche and Allan Davis (both from Liberty Seguros), Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d?Epargne), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Tadej Valjavec (Lampre), and Jens Voigt (Team CSC) counterattacked from the peloton. The bunch captured all of the counterattackers except for Kessler, who closed to within 1:20 of Arrieta and Finot before being reeled in.


A series of attacks prompted the bunch to chase harder, which put paid to Arrieta and Finot at 124 km . After several more sallies, Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Alexandre Moos (Phonak) attacked at 136 km . A number of riders tried unsuccessfully to bridge up to the move, which had forged a 1:19 lead at 162 km .


Behind, Peter Luttenberger (Team CSC) attacked, which led Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Igor Astarloa (Barloworld), and others to follow suit. The resulting acceleration in the bunch cut the escapees? lead to 0:39 with 28 km remaining. Bettini dropped Moos but was reeled in with 12 km to go.


Kessler attacked, and Astarloa, Bettini, and Valverde followed. Defending champion Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Schleck, Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), David Etxebarria (Liberty Seguros), and Sanchez bridged up to the move, and with four km left, so did Kroon, Joaquim Rodriguez (Caisse d?Epargne), Ruggero Marzoli (Lampre), Leonardo Bertagnolli (Cofidis), Fabian Wegmann, Koldo Gil Perez (Saunier Duval), and Bjorn Leukemans (Davitamon). Leukemans put in an immediate attack on the Mur de Huy.



Sanchez and then Astarloa bridged up to Leukemans. Astarloa lunged into the lead, but Etxebarria, Sanchez, Valverde, and Kroon overtook the former world champion near the summit. Valverde, a climber who can sprint, went into high gear for the win.


On Sunday, many of today?s riders will cross swords in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Who will prevail? Check at and find out!

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