Daniel Moreno (Katusha) seized the biggest victory of his career on the brutal slope of the Mur de Huy to win the 2013 La Fleche Wallonne.
The Spaniard, better known as a loyal team-mate to Joaquim Rodriguez launched his attack within a few hundred metres of the line, at the end of the 205km race.
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale), narrowly beaten by Team Sky’s Sergio Henao on the Queen stage of the Tour of the Basque country, was the first to blink on the day’s decisive climb.
But the Columbian, considered by some to be the best of an exceptionally strong crop of South American riders, went too soon, and was passed by Moreno in sight of the line.
Henao passed him too, and Ireland’s Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp) came close to doing so for a spot on the podium, but came from too far back.
World road race champion, Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), was in the mix as the finish line drew close, and resisted the challenge of Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), but both succumbed to Moreno’s aggression.
The Spaniard attacked from Sagan’s wheel and rode straight past Gilbert in his pursuit of Betancur.
Laurens Ten Dam (Blanco) and Simon Geschke (Argos Shimano) spent much of the race in a two-man breakaway, but after a determined chase from a bunch led by Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing) were caught with less than 10km to go on the slopes of the penultimate climb, the Côte de Villers-le-Bouillet.
Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Leopard) and Lars Petr Naudhaug (Blanco) were among those shelled from the bunch by the sudden increase in speed as Katusha and Saxo-Tinkoff attempted to place their leaders at the centre of affairs on the Mur de Huy.
The final instalment of this year’s Ardennes Week takes place on Sunday with the 99th edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
La Fleche Wallonne 2013 – result
1) Daniel Moreno (SPA) – Katusha – 4.52.33
2) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky +3″
3) Carlos Betancur (COL) – Ag2r-La Mondiale – ST
4) Dan Martin (IRE) – Garmin-Sharp
5) Michael Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
6) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +8″
7) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar – ST
8) Igor Anton (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi
9) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Blanco
10) Ricardo Nocentini (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale