La Fleche Wallonne: Daniel Moreno wins as Philippe Gilbert's challenge falters
Last Updated: 17/04/13 5:07pm
Daniel Moreno claimed the biggest win of his career
Spain's Daniel Moreno conquered the infamous Mur de Huy climb to claim the biggest win of his career at the one-day classic La Fleche Wallonne in Belgium.
The Katusha domestique had been riding in support of defending champion Joaquim Rodriguez, but when his team leader wilted on the 26 per cent slopes of the race-ending climb, Moreno emerged from a reduced peloton to triumph ahead of Colombian duo Sergio Henao in second and Carlos Betancur in third.
Ireland's Dan Martin produced a late surge as the road flattened out to the finish line to take fourth, but bookmakers' favourite Philippe Gilbert and Slovak sensation Peter Sagan both cracked on the "Mur", which, as in previous years, once again proved the race's decisive factor.
Britain's highest finisher was Josh Edmondson, who was taking part in the race for the first time and had been at the front of the peloton leading on to the final climb, later crossing the line 43rd.
La Fleche Wallonne is the second of three Ardennes Classics that take place over the space of eight days, following on from the Amstel Gold Race and preceding Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
This year's edition took place over 205km, starting in Binche and ending in Huy, with its 12 climbs including three ascents of the Mur de Huy.
Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling), Gilles Devilliers (Crelan Euphony) and Jurgen van Goolen (Accent.jobs - Wanty) broke clear of the peloton and opened up a gap of almost 10 minutes, but later saw their advantage quickly tumble and were caught with 50km remaining.
Laurens ten Dam (Blanco) twice looked to apply pressure to world champion Gilbert (BMC) by launching subsequent attacks, first with Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) 50km out and then again with Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) with 30km to go.
BMC's pace on the front of the peloton was too fierce, though, and he was finally swallowed up 9km from home, prompting a frantic fight for position among the contenders for victory.
Only 40 riders remained leading on to the Mur de Huy and it was Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) who made the first move, attacking at the foot of the 204m climb and stretching out a lead that it initially looked like he may be able to consolidate.
Gilbert launched his counter-attack as the road ramped up past 20 per cent, but he later fell away along with both Sagan (Cannondale) and Rodriguez, who had been carrying an injury leading into the race.
Betancur also began to run out of steam at the top of the climb, leaving the surging Moreno and chasing Henao (Team Sky) free to take first and second.
1 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha, 4:52.33
2 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, +3secs
3 Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale, same time
4 Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp, st
5 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
6 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +8
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st
8 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, st
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco, st
10 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st