The Fleche Wallonne would see defending champion, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) stomp to victory once again at the top of the Mur de Huy. Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) was 2nd and Michael Albasini (Orica-Greenedge) took 3rd.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had a fair day out with our African colours visible at the head of the race right up until the final kilometer. Serge Pauwels and Jacques Janse van Rensburg were our most prominent figures, riding in the top 20 places of the peloton for the majority of the finale.
It was the new penultimate climb that made quite the difference this year as all early breaks were nullified on the climb that peaked with just 4km to go. It was also on this climb that a selection of around 40 riders rode clear of the peloton, making for a smaller group arriving at the Mur than in previous years.
Serge Pauwles was strong enough to be part of the selection but the Belgian would see the lights go off with 300m to go on the Mur de Huy. Valverde timed his move to perfection while Serge crossed the line 57 seconds after the Spanish victor.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
It was a hard final and as usual the race would be decided on the final climb of the Mur. There were a lot of crashes today but I managed to always stay near the front. Unfortunately when it came to the finale I didn’t have that final ‘big shot’ anymore to get a good result.
Jens Zemke – Head of Performance
Our protected rider was Steve Cummings today but he couldn’t really find his rhythm in the race. We hit the penultimate climb with 4 riders still at the head of the race. The pace was high and over the top it was only Serge surviving. He would be our highest placed rider in 39th.