Making his effort in the final few metres, Kim Kirchen (THR) beat all the main favourites to capture his first Fleche Wallonne success after finishing second of the race back in 2005. Under heavy rain, the final decision took place as expected in the terrifying climb up the Mur the Huy. Cadel Evans was the first to make a move attacking with 400m to go but the Australian failed to hang on to the lead as Kim Kirchen proved to be the strongest when it really mattered. The rider from Luxemburg wins this 72nd edition of the Fleche ahead of Evans and last Sundayâ€™s winner of the Amstel God Race, Damiano Cunego. After taking off under a bright sunshine, the race proved to be extremely eventful after 80 kilometres of riding with a group of 19 riders including Andy Schleck and Philippe Gilbert enjoying a long break in the lead.
Under a bright sunshine and rather warm temperatures 199 riders took off for the 72nd edition of the Fleche Wallonne, heading from the city of Charleroi to Huy after a 199.5km ride. During a first hour where the riders covered a distance of 47â€™7, not the slightest breakaway attempt proved to be decisive. Despite several attacks the pack reacted fiercely. After the bunched pack cleared the Mur de Huy (km 65.5) for the first time with Ardila (RAB) making it first to the top ahead of Tshopp (BTL) and Andy Schleck (CSC), the real action eventually begun during the climb up the CĂ´te dâ€™Ereffe (km 84) where 15 men broke away followed by a group of five including the likes of Gilbert (FDJ) and Kolobnev (CSC).
19 MEN IN THE LEAD
In the second climb up the Mur de Huy (km 95) 19 riders bunched together at the front of the race: Fothen, Moletta (both GST), Garcia-Acosta (GCE), Fernandez de la Puebla (SDV), Efimkin (ALM), Andy Schleck, Sorensen (both CSC), Tschopp (BTL), Mourey (FDJ), Pauriol (C.A), Engels (QST), Bileka, Van den Broeck (both SIL), Pinotti (THR), Duyn (TSL), Kolobnev (CSC), Martens (RAB), Gilbert (FDJ) and Spilak (LAM). At kilometre 115, the front men could enjoy a maximum advantage of 2â€™50 over the pack. The pace in the main field started increasing with the Cofidis men leading the chase. Seeing the gap seriously dropping down, three men decided to take off in the climb up the CĂ´te de Thon (km 149.5): Van Den Broeck (SIL), Sorensen and Schleck (CSC).
THE RAIN SHOWS UP
Ten kilometres later while heavy rain showers hit the race, the front group joined up together again while the pack carried on moving closer. With less than 40 kilometres to go, Vladimir Efimkin took off, chased and caught by Nicky Sorensen (CSC). Time had come for local hero Maxime Montfort to give it a go as the Belgian took off on a counter-attack. Eventually nine men bunched up together in the lead with just under 30 kilometres to go: Grivko (MRM), Ten Dam (RAB), De Waele (LAN), Efimkin (ALM), Sorensen (CSC), Maxime Montfort (COF), Engels (QST), Lloyd and Van Den Broeck (both SIL).
WEGMANN LEADS BEFORE THE FINAL BATTLE
Twenty-five kilometres away from the finish line, Andriy Grivko decided to take off on his own. A strong effort that saw the Ukrainian enjoy a 30â€ť lead over a fifty-man group led by the Caisse dâ€™Epargne boys. The Ukrainian was eventually caught in the penultimate climb up the CĂ´te dâ€™Ahin. Immediately after it was Gustav Larssonâ€™s (CSC) turn to break away. The Swede caught by Alexander Efimkin (QST) and Fabian Wegmann (GST) enjoyed a few kilometres in the lead before suffering a fall with under ten kilometres to go. German champion Wegmann then made his effort in impressive fashion and even reached the final kilometre mark with a 20â€ť advantage over the pack of favourites.
EVANS NOT STRONG ENOUGH FOR KIRCHEN
Not enough however for Wegmann who couldnâ€™t do much In the final climb up the Mur de Huy as the big guns prepared for the final battle. The first man to attack was to be Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans. Hanging on in the Australianâ€™s wheel, Kim Kirchen finally gave all he had to conquer his first ever Fleche Wallonne, overtaking Evans in the last few metres. Damiano Cunego had to settle for third spot ahead of Gesink and Dekker (both RAB) and therefore failed in his quest for an Amstel-Fleche-Liege treble.
1- Kirchen (THR)
2- Evans (SIL)
3- Cunego (LAM)
4- Gesink (RAB)
5- Dekker (RAB)
Luxemburg’s Kim Kirchen (THR) eventually captures victory after making his move in the last 100m and overtaking Evans.
Just ahead of Davide Rebellin, Cadel Evans leads the race with 300m to go.
Fabian Wegmann has just been caught by the main pack led by Cadel Evans.
The pack is now just a few metres behind Wegmann. Can he hang on ???