Traditional Battle on the Mur de Huy at La Flèche Wallonne18. April 2018, Huy (BEL) — Road Team
BMC Racing Team was active throughout the closing stages of La Flèche Wallonne today before a tough battle on the brutal Mur de Huy saw Dylan Teuns cross the line as BMC Racing Team’s best-placed rider.
The course changed for 2018 with the Côte de La Vecquée and the Côte de La Redoute appearing in the first 100km, of the 198.5km course, and taking the total number of climbs to tackle up to eleven.
As is tradition at La Flèche Wallonne, the race came down to the final steep climb, however earlier in the day, eight riders went clear and opened up an advantage that peaked at around 5’30” after 40km of racing.
The peloton was keeping tight control of the breakaway’s advantage heading into the second half of the race before steadily starting to pull the leaders back with an explosive finale on the horizon.
With 58km to go, the race headed over the top of the infamous Mur de Huy and across the finish line to begin the first of two laps of a 29km finishing circuit which also included ascents of the Côte d’Ereffe and Côte de Cherave.
At this point, the breakaway’s advantage had fallen to just 1’25” as several riders, including Damiano Caruso, tried to go clear off the front of the main bunch but the move was ultimately reeled in.
The increase in pace soon saw the leaders sitting less than one minute ahead as the attacks began continued with Alberto Bettiol part of an initial move before Alessandro De Marchi made it into a group of around 25 riders that caught the breakaway with 45km to go.
Just 10km later, the front group split with six riders forging ahead while behind, De Marchi showed his trademark grit and determination as he worked hard to try and close the gap.
As the bell rang to mark the start of the final lap, De Marchi was pulled back by the whittled-down peloton, however, he continued to sit in the first half of the group with Teuns tucked neatly in his wheel.
The leaders’ advantage was sitting at almost one minute approaching the 15km to go mark and as a result, the chase began to intensify with riders spread out all along the road.
Just Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) and Max Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) remained out in front at the bottom of the final ascent of the Mur de Huy but what was left of the peloton had them in their sights.
At the start of the climb, Teuns was sitting in the first 15 riders and continued to stay in the first few positions as he approached the steepest part before a stinging attack saw the race explode with Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) eventually going on to take the day’s honors.
Teuns continued to battle hard behind and in the end, he was the first BMC Racing Team rider across the line, finishing 1’08” behind Alaphilippe in 30th place with De Marchi another ten seconds and two places back.
Quotes From the Finish Line
"I think the addition of the two extra climbs was good. It was a nice start and I felt pretty good. The temperature was a bit lower at the start and it kept warming up throughout the day. I felt good and it was only on the final lap that I had to dig deep to follow on the second to last climb. I was in a good position on the final ascent of the Mur de Huy but then I just completely exploded. My legs were not where they had to be."
"It's always a big battle going onto the final climb but it was different to other years because of the hard racing strategy of other teams in the lead up to it. We also always put one rider in all of the moves and that was really good for us. The final was really selective, more than other years, and so, the group was smaller. It was a bit different but it was still a hard final because they started to race early."
"My form is good. I just didn't have the legs today and I also maybe struggled a bit with the heat. I can still be confident in my shape but I am a bit disappointed with the race as I didn't do as well as I wanted on the last climb."
Alessandro De Marchi:
“My feeling was okay today. The goal was to look for the dangerous move on the two finishing circuits. It almost worked because I was in the big group with a lot of other strong guys. Then, on the downhill, I missed the moment where the group split. I tried to jump with Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) but it was too late. I was then back in the peloton and I looked out for Dylan.”
“I am a bit disappointed because that was a really good moment but I missed it not because of my legs but because I wasn’t in the right position. Today was not really what we wanted, or what we deserved, but that’s cycling. We will keep fighting. I think Liège–Bastogne–Liège will be another completely different race but from what I saw today, I think the race is more open than we think. It will be about looking for the right move at the right moment.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“We did a great job until we reached the finishing circuits and then it got a little out of hand. Luckily, Alessandro De Marchi and Damiano Caruso were able to cover some of the dangerous moves. At the end, we missed the final move but it was okay because De Marchi was sitting in between and the other teams were chasing. That kept us in a good position and both De Marchi and Dylan Teuns did a great race.”
“In the final, Dylan was able to go with all the moves right up until the final 500m or so when he was completely blocked. We could have done a few things better today but in the end, Dylan just didn’t quite have the legs. It’s a hard climb!”
La Flèche Wallonne
One-day race: Seraing > Huy, 198.5km
Top 3: 1. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) 2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 3. Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 30. Dylan Teuns 32. Alessandro De Marchi 80. Alberto Bettiol