Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) launched a unstoppable attack on the brutal gradient of the Mur de Huy to win La Fleche Wallonne. Here’s how the race unfolded.
Only two riders formed the day’s break, with Anthony Roux (FDJ-Big Mat) and Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) going clear after 55km.
The race is the second of three Ardennes Classics and covers 194km from Charleroi to Huy.
Riders tackle the Mur de Huy twice before taking on the 26 per cent climb for the finish.
Team Sky neo-pro Luke Rowe rides the Mur de Huy. The Welshman told RCUK in January that the Ardennes Classics are likely to be his biggest races this year.
With the initial break reeled in, Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) attacked in the final kilometres and held a 12 second advantage over the peloton at the foot of the final climb.
But their bid for glory was ultimately doomed and, with the duo swamped, Rodriguez launched his attack.
Michael Albasini (GreenEdge), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) went in pursuit of Rodriguez but failed to catch the Spaniard, who struggled to hide his elation at the finish.
But there’s only pain for defending champion Gilbert, who won all three Ardennes Classics in 2011.
Rodriguez celebrates his first Classics victory.