20/04/16 - 7:50 PM
Road race - Men
Flèche Wallonne • Stage1

Road race - Men
Flèche Wallonne - 20 April 2016

Flèche Wallonne – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 19:50 on 20 April 2016. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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The moment the race was won...


Valverde: "Hats off to the team - I was really nervous today but they were so impressive. Purito went, then Dan Martin. I did what I could to stay with them."


Julian Alaphilippe was second ahead of his Etixx-QuickStep team-mate Dan Martin. It's the same one-two as last year...


That's a record fourth win for the Green Bullet, Valverde. He's the outright record holder now - and it's a fifth consecutive win for Spain here in Belgium...




But no one is going to stop Valverde today...


Valverde is between Martin and Alaphilippe...


Rodriguez attacks! Valverde has his wheel. Then Martin attacks!


Valverde still leads on this climb but no one's attacking yet. They're on the 20% section now... and it's thinning out.


All the big guns are there - Rodriguez, Valverde, Martin...


Under the flamme rouge! One kilometre to go and it's all still as one...


Now Wanty send a rider on the front, then Etixx through Brambilla...


LottoNL-Jumbo are on the front ahead of the final ascent, with Movistar tucked in behind. Can Wilco Keldeman do something today?


But it's all over - the leading trio are caught ahead of the third and final climb of the Mur de Huy. The race can now begin!


Wellens has caught Jungels and Izagirre! Nail-biting stuff.


There'll be no repeat win for Philippe Gilbert today - the Belgian from BMC has been dropped by the pack. His main focus will be Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege...


Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) attacks from the peloton! The Belgian did just this in Amstel Gold.


Ion Izagirre is now on the offensive - perhaps he's been given free rein by Movistar? Jungels hangs on.


But it comes back together on the Côte de Cherave - just Jungels and Izagirre out in front now.


Rodroguez is one of those Katusha riders...


Interesting... a group of seven riders has managed to break clear of the pack, incuding Michael Albasini of Orica-GreenEdge. There are two Katusha riders and Gio Visconti of Movistar, so the big teams have this covered. But Wout Poels of Sky is there too...


Luxembourg national champion Bob Jungels breaks clear now for Etixx-QuickStep. He's joined by Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) and the move is covered by Ion Izagirre of Movistar.


Attack by Polish national champion Tomasz Marczynski of Lotto Soudal - but it comes to nothing...


It's still Katusha and Movistar on the front of the pack - is this going to be a two-way battle between old foes Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde?


And that's it, Cummings has been caught. Many riders are being shelled out the back here ahead of what will no doubt be a fast finale...


Surely it's a matter of when, not if, Cummings is caught. This is traditionally a race that comes down to the final ascent of the Mur de Huy, and this year it will be no different. He only has 25 seconds now on the third last climb, the Cote d'Ereffe.


Ruben Fernandez is the Movistar rider who attacked along with Bjorn Thurau of Wanty-Groupe Goubert. They caught Dillier, Bono and Van der Sande but were soon caught by the peloton. Thurau still rides ahead of the peloton but he'll call it a day soon. That was a nice move by Cummings after the summit of the Mur de Huy. The Dimension Data rider is in time trialling mode now and has 48 seconds to play with it.


Cummings has bounded clear of Dillier. He has 50 seconds over the pack but you can't see him winning today - despite his pedigree. We used to seeing the British veteran put in his opportunistic digs much later in races so this is a new tactic from Cummings, who was part of the main break today. In the absence of a Dimension Data icon, we'll give him a Vacansoleil one... remember them??


And it's Cummings who leads Dillier over the summit, with Bono beating Van der Sande just ahead of a couple of riders who have sprung out of the peloton - one from Wanty and Movistar apiece.


Silvan Dillier leads the four escapees on the Mur de Huy. And he's opened up a gap... Cummings responds while the other two, Bono and Van der Sande, keep their tempo further back.


The gap is coming down fast now - all the escapees have been caught except those four who surged clear earlier following Steve Cummings' attack. They only have 55 seconds now ahead of the Mur.


And the bad news continues for Trek... Over in the Tour of Croatia, Giacomo Nizzolo has been beaten by Mark Cavendish in stage two. That's a reversal of the opening stage result.


Trek-Segafredo have confirmed that Frank Schleck has withdrawn from the race with a broken collarbone.


Bono, Dillier, Van der Sande and Cummings have 1:30 over the pack now on a fast downhill ahead of the second ascent of the Mur de Huy. Still not a cloud in the sky so we won't have a repeat of that late downpour that we saw on the weekend in Amstel Gold.


It doesn't look good for Frank Schleck, who is holding his elbows in the way that usually indicates a broken collarbone. That will be a blow for the Luxembourg veteran, who's usually pretty lively in the Ardennes: winner of Amstel Gold in 2006, he was also runner up in 2008. He's twice been third in Liege-Bastogne-Liege before finishing runner-up in 2011. Last year he won a stage on the Vuelta a Espana.


CRASH: Half a dozen or so riders come down in the middle of the pack, including two Trek-Segafredo riders who are staying down. It looks like Haimar Zubeldia and Frank Schleck. A third Trek rider, Niccolo Bonifazio, is with them - he was shelled out the back earlier.


The fast tempo in the peloton is shedding loads of riders off the back of the bunch - every gradient sees more fall back. But they're not making any in-roads on the break, who still have two minutes to play with.


BREAKING NEWS: Anna Van der Breggen (RaboLiv) beats Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) up the Mur de Huy to win her second successive Fleche Wallonne title.


Cummings is joined by Dillier, Bono and Van der Sande as four of the initial break open up a gap over the others. They lead the Movistar-led peloton by 2:05 now.


Pedersen, the Stolting Service Group rider who was last to join the break, is the first to leave it after being dropped near the summit. It doesn't make things any easier for the young Dane that Steve Cummings has surged clear and forced the other escapees to dig deep.


The leading group is beginning to fragment on the Cote de Bohissau as the advantage drops below two minutes. Back with the pack, Sky have come forward to help Movistar with the chase, while Hesjedal is still struggling to keep up at the back.


The gap's down to 2:10 for the break as Ryder Hesjedal slows to pick up a bidon off the back of the peloton from hsi Trek-Segafredo soigneur. They've just gone over the Cote de Bellaire for the second time.


Orica-GreenEdge are still on cloud nine after their victory in Paris-Roubaix through Mat Hayman, although the Australian team were brought down to earth with a bang after they bungled Amstel Gold on Sunday, with Michael Matthews only managing fifth place despite his team pacing hard throughout the race. Today they have Michael Albasini going for the win, with Britain's Adam Yates as his right-hand man. Yates spoke to Cyclingnews this morning and said: "I’m here to work for Albasini 100 per cent. Then it’ll be on to Liège where we’ll have Simon Gerrans, so support him. But in any case, Valverde is the reference point, he’s the man to beat."


Sky's man for today's race was Sergio Henao - before he was pulled from racing by Sky owing to the reopening of his biological passport case. Instead they will hope that Wout Poels, Lars Petter Nordhaug or Ben Swift could do something - but I wouldn't hold your breath.


Not a cloud in the sky (although many clouds for Sky) in Belgium as the break powers on through a flat section ahead of the next climb. Katusha have one man on the front of the pack ahead of the entire Movistar team, and then the rest of the Katusha army.


So, who are the big favourites today? Well, take your pick from defending champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe and Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Groupe Goubert), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida)... Any other riders you fancy? Have your say below or send a tweet to me @saddleblaze.


Movistar are controlling things on the front of the pack. Of course, the Spanish team have the previous three winners of this race in their side: Valverde (twice) and 2013 victor Dani Moreno, who joined from Katusha after falling out with the man who won it the year before him, Joaquim Rodriguez. The gap is 3:10 for the leading 10 riders.


In other news, Team Sky have at least some reasons to be happy on an otherwise testing day in the wake of the Henao affair: Spaniard Mikel Landa has won the mountaintop finale in stage two of the Giro del Trentino and has moved into the race lead. Landa's riding back into form ahead of the Giro d'Italia after an early season hampered by illness.


Dutchman Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) had a small gap over his fellow escapees at the summit of the Mur.


The break hits the Mur de Huy with a lead of 3:30 over the pack. The climb is followed by the first feed zone in the town of Huy.

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In the women's race, a break of seven riders have 2:30 over the pack, which is being controlled by Marianne Vos's RaboLiv team. They have 50km remaining.


The riders have tackled the Côte de Bohissau (1.3km at 7.6%) and the Côte de Solières (4.3km - the longest of the race - at a gentle 4%). The gap has wallooned to 3:25 with the first passage of the Mur de Huy looming.


A look over the previous 10 winners here on the Mur de Huy gives you an idea of the kind of rider who excels in this race: Valverde, Rebellin, Kirchen, Evans, Gilbert, Rodriguez, Moreno, Valverde, Valverde. Indeed, Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is going for a record fourth win here after skipping Amstel Gold in favour of riding (and winning) the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon over the weekend. The Spanish veteran currently has three wins in this race along with Belgians Marcel Kint and Eddy Merckx, and Italians Moreno Argentin and Davide Rebellin.


Right, back to the men's race. Those nine riders have been caught by the lone chaser to we now have 10 out in front. They are: Steve Cummings (Dimension Data), Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Mads Pedersen (Stolting Service Group), Quentin Pacher (Delko Marseille Provence KTM). Pedersen was the rider who rode solo in pursuit. The lead is still around the 1:30 mark so the peloton is not giving them too much leeway.

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It's worth noting that there is also a women's race, which is currently under way: a 137km course that features 11 climbs including two ascents of the Mur de Huy. We'll be keeping you updated with how things are panning out there too.

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If the Amstel Gold Race is all about the fourth and final climb of the Cauberg then the same can be said of the Fleche Wallonne and the infamous Mur de Huy. The devillishly steep 1.3km climb peaks at a gradient of 24% and is tackled three times during the race, most notably in the finale. The rolling course contains a total of 12 climbs and suits punchy climbers in the mould of Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez.


We pick up the race LIVE as the riders approach the first climb of the day, the Cote de Bellaire. There is a break of nine riders with a lead of 1:40 over the peloton, and a tenth rider trying to bridge the gap.


Henao's absence meant 199 riders took to the start of the race this morning at Marche-en-Famenne. It's a sunny and quite warm day in Belgium for this race. So far the classics have had great weather - although there was that huge downpour during Amstel last Sunday...


Hello and welcome to live coverage of the second of three races that make up the Ardennes Week - La Fleche Wallonne, aka the Arrow of Wallonia.