Legends never die
At almost 42, Alejandro Valverde was very close to achieving his sixth victory at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. The world champion in Innsbruck finished second beaten only in the final meters by the Belgian Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious), third in 2017 and one of the two indicated long ago by Valverde himself as his possible successor in this race along with Julian Alaphilippe .
The cycling legend once again enjoyed one of his favorite races in the final climb to Huy, where Movistar controlled the pace with Carlos Verona and Enric Mas up to the Teuns jump. Valverde responded swiftly to that hard attack in the hardest part of the climb, at the point where almost every year the real candidates for victory are revealed, keeping his rival’s wheel until already in the last straight, where the slope softens although it continues to bite upwards, it had to give way due to the demanding effort of the entire wall.
“I have to be happy. I missed a bit, in fact at the end my arms almost hurt more than my legs from what I had to stretch on the last climb, but I tried until the end and Teuns was the most strong, there is no doubt; congratulations to him. Thanks to the team for the great job they have done, all of them, without discussion from the first to the last. Verona, Gregor, Oier, Lluís, Gorka… they have taken me perfectly all day and on that last climb Enric has set a very strong pace that has allowed me to arrive well positioned. Dylan has attacked very well, very continuous; perhaps it has been the fastest climb in history, or at least of the ones I have been in this wall. There are days when you have the feeling that you could have suffered a little more to get the victory, but today I gave everything. It’s a second that counts as a victory. Coming here after a very complicated Volta a Catalunya and finishing second It gives a lot of happiness. In five days I will turn 42, it was the las FW… I wanted to check that state of form, I saw that at home it was fine, but in competition it is something else. Coming here, finishing well today, suffering but finishing well, gives me a lot of hope for Liege on Sunday.”
Photo: Sprint Cycling Agency / Movistar Team