Impressive Philippe Gilbert (OLO). After taking off early, the Belgian wins this 75th edition of the Fleche Wallonne. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT) finishes second. Samuel Sanchez (EUS) is third.
With 400m to go, off goes Phiippe Gilbert. Fantastic. No one can keep up !
While all the main favourites are well present. Philippe Gilbert leads the pack.
Pineau and Marcato are caught by the pack. Fuglsang leads the pack in the final climb.
Final kilometre for the leading two. Their lead: 15". Probably not good enough.
Tankink (RAB) leads the pack as they move closer to the final climb up the Mur de Huy. Still two riders in the lead: Pineau and Marcato.
With five kilometres to go, Pineau and Marcato have a 20" lead over a pack led by two Rabobank riders.
As Thomas Lovkvist and Vasil Kyrienka have been caught by the pack. Jerome Pineau (QST)and Marco Marcato (VCD) give it a go. Two new men in the lead!
Dries Devenyns has been caught by a pack including all the race favourites. Still two in the lead.
Ten kilometres to go and still two men in the lead: Kyrienka and Lovkvist. They have a 13" lead over Devenyns (QST) and 18" over the pack
While Kyrienka (MOV) and Lovkvist (SKY) still lead the way with a 17" advantage, the pack has caught all the counter attacking men. The chase is on as the Omega Pharma Lotto riders continue their efforts at the front of the pack.
Kyrienka and Lovkvist take off in the lead. They have an 8" lead over their 8 former breakaway companions and 21" over the pack.
After enjoying a maximum 17’10 advantage over the pack, the leading three have been caught by a group of counter attacking men. Ten riders lead the race with a 20" advantage over the pack. The front men are: Van Hecke, Paterski, Vantomme, Golas, Kolobnev, Gasparotto, Verdugo, Van Garderen, Kyrienka and Lovkvist.
Three men lead the race: Van Hecke, Vantomme and Paterski. Six men are currently on a counter attack with 24kms to go: Kolobnev, Gasparotto, Verdugo, Van Garderen, Kyrienka and Lovkvist.
The pack led by Nicki Sorensen (SBS) and Philippe Gilbert (OLO) reaches the top of the Mur de Huy (km 171.5) with a 1’30 deficit on the front riders.
Van Hecke leads the front group at top of the Mur de Huy. More mountain points for the Belgian ahead of Paterski and Vantomme. But the pack is seriously closing in on the escapees.
As the pack moves closer to the second climb up the Mur de Huy, the Omega Pharma Lotto team of Philippe Gilbert have taken command of the chase, as the pace increases.
With five kilometres to go before the top of the Mur de Huy (35kms from the finish), Kadri has been caught by the pack. The front four, Maciej Paterski (Pol - LIQ), Maxime Vantomme (Bel - KAT), Matti Helminen (Fin - LAN) and Preben Van Hecke (Bel - TSV) still have a 2’20 lead over the pack.
At km 164, Blel Kadri’s solo effort continues. The AG2R rider is now 2’20 behind the four leaders and has a 15" advantage over the pack.
At the top of the Côte d’Ahin, Kadri is 2’40 behind the leaders while the pack is 2’55 adrift.
Frenchman Blel Kadri (ALM) has just broken away from the pack on a counter-attack with under 40kms to go.
While Nuyens, recent winner of the Ronde leads the chase, Damiano Cunego, caught in a crash and now well helped out by his Lampre team mates is moving closer to the last positions of the pack.
As the pace increases, a fall has just occurred in the pack. Fifth last year Damiano Cunego (LAM) was caught in the crash and is now chasing to move back into the pack.
As Jens Voigt has taken command of the chase at the front of the pack, the advantage of the leading four is now under 5’. Currently riding on long straights, the escapees are now struggling and the gap is seriously dropping.
Van Hecke makes it first again at the top of the Côte de Bousalle (km 149.5) ahead of Paterski and Helminen. The pack, at the top of the Côte de Bohisseau, remains 5’40 adrift.
In the climb up the Côte de Bohisseau, Jurgen Van der Broeck suffered a puncture and was immediately given a spare wheel by his Omega Pharma Lotto team mate Jussi Veikkanen. Meanwhile up front Helminen was the first at the top of the climb.
Van Hecke (TSV) makes it first again at the top of the Côte de Groynne (km 140.5) ahead of his three breakaway companions. Meanwhile Xabier Zandio (SKY) leads the pack with a helping hand from the Leopard-Trek riders. the gap is now under the 8’ mark.
As the riders from team Sky have joined the chase at the front of the pack alonsgide the men from Leopard-Trek and Saxo Bank, the gap has now dropped down to 9’10 at km 125.
As the pack seems to have increased its pace, the gap has dropped to 9’50 at km 118. Still in the lead are: Maciej Paterski (Pol - LIQ), Maxime Vantomme (Bel - KAT), Matti Helminen (Fin - LAN) and Preben Van Hecke (Bel - TSV).
While the men are under 80kms from the finish, Marianne Vos has just conquered her fourth crown on the women’s Fleche Wallonne. The Dutch rider beat Emma Johansson of Sweden and Germany’s Judith Arnt at the top of the Mur de Huy.
After a breakaway attempt, the four counter-attacking riders have been caught back by the chasing pack. The Leopard-Trek and Saxo Bank riders carry on controlling the pack.
At km 117, four men have broken away from the pack on a counter-attack: Kohler, Louder (both BMC), Geschke (SKS) and Delfosse (LAN).
The leading group of four has reached the top of the second climb, the Côte de Peu d’Eau (km 109.5) in the following order:
1. Van Hecke (TSV)
2. Helminen (LAN)
3. Paterski (LIQ)
At km 102, the pack remains 12’ adrift.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Speaking to Letour.fr, AG2R La Mondiale team director, Julien Jurdie says that one of his leaders Nicolas Roche, who was forced to quit after a crash, appears to have hurt his hip. He was taken to a close by hospital by ambulance for further exams. Jurdie admits he can still count on three other of his riders for victory: Peraud, Nocentini and Gadret.
After suffering a crash, Irish riders Daniel Martin (GRM) and Nicolas Roche (ALM) have both been forced to quit the race.
At km 92, the advantage of race leaders, Maciej Paterski (Pol - LIQ), Maxime Vantomme (Bel - KAT), Matti Helminen (Fin - LAN) and Preben Van Hecke (Bel - TSV) is now of 14’25’’
For the first passage at the top of the Mur de Huy, the pack still has a 15’30 deficit over the escapees. Tom Jelte Slagter (RAB) was the first of the pack at the top of the climb while race favourites Andy and Frank Schleck as well as Alberto Contador were in the leading positions.
The leading four riders have reached the top of the Mur de Huy (km 70) for the first time of the day in the following order:
1. Van Hecke (TSV)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
2. Helminen (LAN)
3. Paterski (LIQ)
In a fine article in Belgian Daily La Meuse, Rik Verbrugghe, winner of the event back in 2001 and now a team director at BMC Racing gives his tips on how to win the Fleche Wallonne.
“Anticipating the final difficulty is a possibility to win. It’s actually what I had done back in 2001 when I took off going up the Côte de Bohisseau. But to win the Fleche you need experience. Taking off too early in the Mur de Huy can condemn you when you hit the final metres. You really have to wait for the good moment. You also need to stay on the outside of the famous bend. On the outside, the gradient is of 30% while on the outside it’s around 18%. Staying on the inside can ‘break your legs’.”
After reaching a maximum 17’10, the gap has dropped down between the leading four and the pack led by teams Leopard Trek and Saxo Bank, at km 50. The front men’s advantage is now of 16’50.
Speaking to our colleagues from Belgian daily La Dernière Heure-Les Sports, Philippe Gilbert admits that he is more focused on Liège-Bastogne-Liège than the Fleche Wallonne where he considers he has very slim chances of winning.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
“The Fleche is the only race where I know I have no chance of winning. I do my best to try and win but the Mur de Huy is just too difficult for me. I always struggle in the last meters. To hope and win, I would have to make the best of circumstances, break away in a small group. Finishing sixth last year was already an exploit. I was surprised by myself because I didn’t think it was possible to finish in the Top 10. It was one of the days when I suffered the most in my career. I don’t have an advantage compared to those who have a weight of 60kilos and under”.
The HTC-Highroad riders have moved to the front of the pack. Meanwhile, the front four have reached km 45 and can still enjoy a 16’30 advantage over the pack.
Speaking to Letour.fr, Radioshack team director Dirk Demol admits he won’t have his best possible team at the start of the Fleche Wallonne, he can however count on two very promisinhg talents, Ben Hermans and Janez Brajkovic.
“Our normal team leaders on the Ardennes Classics, Kloeden, Horner and Leipheimer, have decided to take a break in order to focus on the Tour of California that is very important for our sponsor. So it isn’t the best team but we’ll still have Hermans and Brajkovic. Hermans just finished 8th of the Amstel Gold Race and for his first experience on the Fleche Wallonne, back in 2009, he captured 14th spot. He actually surprised me last Sunday and I expect more of him on the Fleche. For Janez Brajkovic, I just count on his talent. I don’t yet know in what shape he’ll be. His main concern this season will really be the Tour de France.”
At kilometre 20, the pack still hasn’t reacted to the breakaway. The gap carries on growing for the front men currently at km 30: now 11’15.
At km 17 the leading four, Maciej Paterski (LIQ), Maxime Vantomme (KAT), Matti Helminen (LAN) and Preben Van Hecke (TSV) have a 9’ lead over the pack.
After struggling with flu during the Tour of Castilla and Leon, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador appears to still be suffering before the Fleche Wallonne. Speaking to French sports daily L’Equipe, the Spaniard considers it’ll be difficult to triumph at the top of the Mur de Huy.
“I have a lot of appetite before competing on the Fleche Wallonne, in a country where the cycling culture is comparable to football in Spain, but I would have preferred to be in better shape. I haven’t planned to race Liège-Bastogne-Liège to give my maximum on the Fleche and also because Liège wasn’t part of my preparation process before the Giro. But based on the flu I have, it’ll be difficult to fight for victory.
On this 75th edition of the Fleche Wallonne, the pack will take on 10 hill climbs including the famous Mur de Huy on three occasions:
Km 70: Mur de Huy (1.3km, 9.3%)
Km 109.5: Côte de Peu d’Eau (2.7km, 3.9%)
Km 115: Côte de Haut-Bois (1.6km, 4.8%)
Km 140.5: Côte de Groynne (2km, 3.5%
Km 146.5: Côte de Bohisseau (1.3km, 7.6%)
Km 149.5: Côte de Bousalle (1.7km, 4.9%)
Km 160.5: Côte d’Ahin (2.3km, 6.5%)
Km 171.5: Mur de Huy (1.3km, 9.3%)
Km 190: Côte d’Ereffe (2.1km, 5.9%)
Km 201: Mur de Huy (1.3km, 9.3%)
The pack doesn’t seem too concerned by the breakaway riders. The front four can now enjoy a 4’15 lead over the pack at km 12.5.
After a first attempt straight from the start by Maciej Paterski (LIQ), four men currently lead the way. Indeed Paterski has been joined by Maxime Vantomme (KAT), Matti Helminen (LAN) and Preben Van Hecke (TSV).
After a ride through Charleroi, the 197 riders have officially started this 75th edition of the Fleche Wallonne at 11:31 cet.
197 riders are currently on their way to km 0 of the Fleche Wallonne after a short 4.6km ride through the streets of Charleroi. Two riders failed to show up at the start: pre race favourite Xavier Tondo (MOV) and Dominik Nerz (LIQ).
Hello and welcome to the 75th edition of the men’s Fleche Wallonne. In a few minutes now, the 199 riders from 25 teams will be taking off for a 201km race from Charleroi (in front of the Stade du Pays de Charleroi) to Huy with its final climb up the Huy.