Huy - Spaniard Alejandro Valverde has timed his attack to perfection on the
gruelling Mur de Huy to win the Fleche Wallonne race for the second time
The Movistar team leader, who also won this event
in 2006, passed Ireland's Daniel Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland
in the final 200 metres of the 199.5km ride to claim his fourth victory
in an Ardennes Classic.
Garmin's Martin finished 3sec down with Omega-Pharma's Kwiatkowski another second further back.
Last year's winner Dani Moreno could finish only ninth with Amstel Gold Race winner Philippe Gilbert 10th.
who turns 34 on Friday, had been pushed off the podium at Sunday's
Amstel race as Belgian Gilbert burst clear to win by 5sec from Jelle
Vanendert and Simon Gerrans from Australia.
But this time, BMC's
Gilbert failed to get himself into one of the leading positions at the
foot of the final climb, the imposing Mur de Huy (Wall of Huy).
But Valverde insisted there was no sense of gaining revenge on Gilbert for his defeat in the Netherlands.
"More than revenge I simply wanted to win and I tried to win," said the Spaniard.
"On Sunday at Amstel I was happy (with fourth) because Gilbert was simply much stronger.
today I had good legs, I went for the win and I got it. I'm delighted
for me, for my team, for my teammates, because everyone worked hard
Martin said there was a moment he thought he might win it but Valverde just proved too strong.
"Every year I seem to get a little bit better but again I was a little too far back at the bottom of the climb.
"With a few hundred metres to go I did think I might have had it but he (Valverde) flew past and left me for dead."
Romain Bardet attacked at the foot of the climb, which averages almost
10 percent and has a steepest section of 26 percent.
But Bardet could not make it stick and soon a host of other riders had come to the fore.
seemed to have edged ahead but Martin, last year's winner of
Liege-Bastogne-Liege, came storming past with a brutal acceleration.
Yet he too slowed down as Valverde, also a two-time winner in Liege, made his move and that proved the decisive one.
Dutchman Bauke Mollema earnt his best ever finish in a Classics race with fourth while compatriot Tom Jelte Slagter was fifth.
Moreno's Katusha team had looked to be controlling the peloton coming
up to the final climb but suffered a crucial blow when luckless 2012
champion Joaquim Rodriguez was brought down 3km from home -- his second
successive tumble in a classic as he came a cropper in the Amstel last
weekend -- by a crash involving Italian Damiano Cunego.
seemed to affect several riders' ability to position themselves at the
front of the peloton for the crucial final 1.3km Mur.
The day had
begun with a three-man breakaway involving Australian Jonathan Clarke,
Belgian Preben Van Hecke and Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania.
was dropped around 50km from home while the other two battled on until
they were reeled in with just over 10km left, having spent around 170km
in the lead.
At that point the racing was furious with BMC,
Movistar and Katusha sharing pace-making duties to ensure their leaders
were in pole position once the crunch Mur de Huy came into view.
Gilbert's hopes of matching the Ardennes treble he achieved in 2011
went up in smoke as he was caught well back down the field when the
climb up the Mur began.