17/04/13 - 8:05 PM
Road race - Men
Flèche Wallonne • Stage2

Road race - Men
Flèche Wallonne - 17 April 2013

Flèche Wallonne – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 20:05 on 17 April 2013. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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4. D Martin; 5. M Kwiatkowski; 6. Jo Rodriguez; 7. A Valverde; 8. I Anton


Sergio Henao second ahead of Betancur and Dan Martin.




Gilbert is leading the chase followed by Sagan.


Carlos Betancur goes early.


So who will be the strongest man on the Mur de Huy?


They are fighting for position near the front. Lars Petter Nordhaug is another in the Schleck group, 1:15 back and out of contention.


Remember the 1.3km Mur de Huy has an average gradient of 9.3% but with a number of sections at 17% including one corner at 26%.


The pace is high heading towards the finale, Saxo-Tinkoff also getting in the mix.


Lieuwe Westra was another rider dropped on the Cote de Villers-le-Bouillet.


Purito's Katusha team-mates now coming to the front.


A peloton of around 50 riders will hit the Mur de Huy. Meyer caught.


Geschke and Ten Dam caught and off goes Travis Meyer. Andy Schleck dropped on the Cote de Villers-le-Bouillet.


The pace of the red BMC shirts continues to stymie many attacks as we approach the foot of the Cote de Villers-le-Bouillet which has a very steep opening half. Geschke and Ten Dam hanging on, Lagutin caught.


Vacansoleil's Lagutin is within five seconds of the two leaders but the peloton are only eight seconds back.


Richie Porte is dropped on the Côte d’Amay as Geschke and Ten Dam maintain their advantage over the peloton led by Marcus Burghardt. The pressure applied by the German prevents any attacks before Sergey Lagutin has a dig over the summit.


More bad luck for Garmin as Dan Martin has a mechanical but he is back in the bunch. Dominique Nerz pumping away at the front of the peloton as we approach the Côte d’Amay, he is one of five Gilbert team-mates at the head of affairs. Peter Sagan's Cannondale comrades are also moving forward. Still 20 seconds for Geschke and Ten Dam.


BMC on the front of the peloton and the two leaders are just hanging out there with a 20 second lead. They will race through the town of Amay, which will make the bunch nervous, to get to the Côte d’Amay with 15km remaining. That is a 1.5km climb with a 6.7% average gradient. Then a much narrower road leads to the Cote de Villers-le-Bouillet which is just 8.5km out from the finish. The first 500m is very steep with gradients of 13%. In total it is a 1.2km climb with an average gradient of 7.5%.


Out on the finishing loop and Geschke and Ten Dam persist with their attack. The peloton is over 80 strong and 10 seconds back.


The brief counter-attack from Romain Bardet is curtailed as the riders loop back to Huy for a second climb up the Wall. Laurens Ten Dam is then caught and passed by Simon Geschke who leads over the top while Ryder Hesjedal has a mechanical at the worst possible time.


Romain Bardet and Laurens Ten Dam are hanging on to their slim lead. Gilbert's BMC team-mates lead the bunch just 15 seconds back as they head to the Mur de Huy for a second time.


Bardet and Ten Dam go over the Côte de Bousalle, a 1.7km climb with a 4.9% average gradient, with a 17 second advantage.


Indeed they are caught on the Côte de Bohisseau which is the signal for a flurry of counter-attacks. Laurens Ten Dam (Blanco) and Romain Bardet (AG2R) are up ahead.


Looks like the three leaders will be caught before the second ascent of the Mur de Huy.


Orica-Greenedge and Movistar riders have moved up to the front of the pack and the gap has dropped down to 1:10 ahead of the Côte de Bellaire. Alberto Contador was forced to change bikes but is back in the peloton.


Breakaway gap is 2:20 on the Côte de Peu d'Eau. Seven more climbs after this one.


Marianne Vos wins the women’s Fleche Wallonne for the fifth time. The Dutch rider beats Longo Borghini and Moolman to the top of the Mur de Huy.


Join the race now LIVE on British Eurosport and the Eurosport Player with David Harmon and Brian Smith in the commentary box.


The gap carries on dropping and is now only 3:45 following the Côte d'Ereffe.


The advantage is down to five minutes for Lang, Devillers and Van Goolen.


Rohregger, who crashed in the neutral zone, has abandoned as has AG2R-La Mondiale rider Matteo Montaguti.


Devillers has crossed the Mur in the lead. Vacansoleil and Argos-Shimano lead the peloton over the top with a 6:25 deficit on the front three.


This race has been won in recent years by the likes of Cadel Evans, Kim Kirchen, Danilo Di Luca and Davide Rebellin - on three occasions.


Carlos Betancour, Igor Anton, the Lampre pair Diego Ulissi and Damiano Cunego plus Bauke Mollema and Enrico Gasparotto are others who could feature at the business end.


2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal and Irish rider Dan Martin will hope to rescue a spring classics campaign for Garmin-Sharp that has yielded just one top-10 performance. "The shape is good from Ryder,” sport director Eric Van Lancker said. “He was good (at Amstel) and it’s good for Flèche and Liège, and he is building up to the Giro."


And as we say that Vanendert goes down after a crash in the pack. He is back on his bike and riding. Lang was first over the Côte de Groynne (2km at 3.5%) with the pack at 8:25.


Lotto Belisol's Jelle Vanendert proved in Amstel Gold that his condition was good and last year he was fourth. “My performance in the Amstel has given me confidence. The decision will probably be made on the final climb in Huy. The Mur is a climb that suits me, if the circumstances are right the best option is to attack. You have to be careful not to jump too early because it’s a long, steep climb where you risk to stand still. It’s waiting for the right moment and hoping you’re the strongest."


They have gone over the first climb, the Côte de Naninne - 2.6 km climb at 3.7% - with Devillers crossing first and the peloton at 8:45.


Richie Porte, who won Paris-Nice and was second at Criterium International and the Tour of the Basque Country, will feature for Team Sky alongside plus Sergio Luis Henao and Rigoberto Uran.


Michal Kwiatkowski, the young Pole who was fourth at Amstel, will lead Omega Pharma - Quick Step. "We can count on Kwiatkowski who is in good condition and did well on Sunday, but we will see. With him every race is like a discovery — discovering new parcour, new race situations," OPQS sport director Davide Bramati said. "For him it's an important test to learn again on this parcour. If there is the possibility for him to be in the front, for sure we will help him out to be there."


Michael Albasini stormed up the Mur de Huy to take second last year and will lead Orica-GreenEdge with Simon Gerrans resting ahead of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. “We have plenty of confidence coming into Fleche,” said Albasini. “We rode great as a team at Amstel Gold, and we were able to stick to our plan well. Things are looking good for us for the next two Ardennes races. The final time up the Mur is a real killer though."


Alejandro Valverde, the 2006 champion, and Nairo Quintana are likely to carry Spanish hopes while the figure of Peter Sagan lurks. The Slovakian showed some fatigue when he finished 36th in Amstel Gold because of severe cramps but will look to finish a spectacular spring - which also includes wins in Gent-Wevelgem and Brabantse Pijl plus second place finishes in Flanders and Milan-San Remo - with another victory.


The gap for the three leaders is now out to 9:20.


Alberto Contador is in the field today but that is seemingly under duress from his Saxo-Bank team. He may well play a support role for Amstel winner Roman Kreuziger and Nicki Sørensen. Sports director Philippe Mauduit said: "We go in Fleche with three free riders in Roman, Alberto and Nicki, and these three must be protected throughout the race, so they come unscathed to the final."


Joaquim Rodriguez, the winner last year following successive second place finishes, suffered a crash during Amstel Gold and is unlikely to be at full power. 'Purito' did a two hour training ride on Tuesday to confirm his participation but was downbeat on his chances. "I will take part in La Fleche Wallonne with the number one on my back and that gives me strong motivation - but I’m also aware I’m not in my top shape and so it will be very hard to replicate last year's victory," he said.


Looking at the race favourites and after missing out in the Amstel Gold Race, world road champion Philippe Gilbert will look to add another World Tour Classic to his palmares. Gilbert, who finished fifth on Sunday at Amstel, won this Ardennes Classic in 2011 and finished third last year. Brent Bookwalter, Steve Cummings, Mathias Frank and Amaël Moinard will be the support cast for the man in the rainbow jersey.


Van Goolen has caught the two leaders and that trio have a four minute lead on the peloton.


The final run-in is harder, thanks to the Cote de Villers-le-Bouillet climb, and Jean-Michel Monin, who designed the recently introduced route, said: "The battle to be in the right position will be much more intense. They will have to race through the town of Amay to get to the Côte d’Amay which will make the bunch nervous. And whilst that climb is reached on a fairly wide road, they then tackle the Côte de Villers on a much narrower road. And the first 500m is very steep with gradients of 13%"


Jurgen Van Goolen of Accent Jobs - Wanty is trying to bridge the gap to the two leaders. Lang and Devilliers have 1:05 on Van Goolen and 2:10 on the peloton.


Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling) and Gilles Devillers (Crelan - Euphony) are off the front and have a 75 second lead on the bunch.


A smaller finishing loop sees the Cote d’Amay (15km remaining) and the Cote de Villers-le-Bouillet which is just 8.5km out from the finish. That may whittle down the main group but the race is always decided on the final ascent of the Huy, the 1.3km 'wall' which has average gradient of 9.3% but with a number of sections at 17% including one corner at 26%.


The riders tackle the Côte de Naninne and the Côte de Groynne before going over the Huy and the finish line for the first time. The peloton then take on a southern loop of 63.75 kilometres and tackle five climbs - Côte d'Ereffe (with 77.5km left), Côte de Peu d'Eau (59km), the Côte de Bellaire (54km), the Côte de Bohisseau (46.5km) and Côte de Bousalle (43.5km) - before looping back around to Huy for a second climb up the Wall with 31.5km remaining.


It is a largely flat start to the race before the first of the 12 climbs after 74km. The route features three ascents of the finishing climb, the Mur de Huy, a 1.3km 'wall' that averages 9.3 percent. The first ascent of the climb comes after 107km. Frenchman Cedric Pineau (FDJ) has seen a couple of attacks to escape the bunch foiled.


Daniele Pietropolli of Lampre-Merida did not start while Sky, Argos and Topsport also only have seven-man teams. On the way to the official start, RadioShack Leopard's Austrian rider Thomas Rohregger crashed but he is back up and riding on a pleasant day for the 77th edition of this race.


196 riders have just rolled out of the official start in Binche to take on the 205km route. All 19 ProTour teams are in attendance plus wildcards Accent Jobs–Wanty, Crelan–Euphony, Colombia-Coldeportes, Sojasun, IAM Cycling, and Topsport Vlaanderen–Baloise.


Welcome to our coverage of Flèche Wallonne, part of the UCI World Tour and one of the big one-day races on the European professional calendar. I'm Lee Walker, feel free to leave your comments in the box below or you can follow me on Twitter at @Lee_Eurosport