Wednesday 18 April 2012

La Fleche Wallonne report and results

Women's race (with video) - Men's race (with video)

Pooley abandons, Stevens takes Fleche victory
Emma Pooley
Emma Pooley (AA was forced to abandon the Fleche Wallonne Femmes after her gears apparently broke twice, a third mechanical problem and three crashes. In the first, she went down along with several other riders but was unhurt; in the second, she collided with a rider who had unexpectedly stopped, breaking her deraileur and while beginning to feel rather battered could continue on a spare bike; in the third. another rider collided with her and she was thrown to the ground, then a motorbike ran over her bike and damaged it beyond repair (AA report here). Eye witnesses say she was bleeding as she climbed the Muur for the last time, but she's said to have only very minor injuries (updates as soon as possible). Faren-Honda's Nicole Cooke is reported to have abandoned "after a few kilometres."

Marianne Vos, four-time winner of this race, looked set to repeat her previous success after taking the lead on the final climbed of the infamous Muur to the finish line after a five-rider break formed with 15km to go and managed to join up with Linda Villumsen, Clara Hughes and Lucinda Brand. However, she was surprised in the last 30m by Evelyn Stevens who suddenly appeared from behind her and powered past to the line looking as though she had a rocket under her saddle - an absolutely superb win for the American rider and as good as a big tick next to her name on the Olympic selection list.

Evelyn Stevens, now with

Women's Top Ten
1. Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-Lululemon) 3h26'32"
2. Marianne Vos (Rabobank) +4"
3. Linda Villumsen (GreenEDGE) +20"
4. Lucinda Brand (AA +27"
5. Ashleigh Moolman (Lotto Ladies-Belisol) +41"
6. Judith Arndt (GreenEDGE) ST
7. Megan Guarnier (TIBCO) +44"
8. Clara Hughes (Specialized-Lululemon) +48"
9. Emma Johansson (Hitec Products-Mistral Home) ST
10. Karol-Ann Canuel (Vienne Futurscope) +51"

Best Brit: 20. Sharon Laws (AA +1'10"
(Top 40)

The women's race is, of course, the fourth round of the Women's Road World Cup. The standings after today look like this:

1. Marianne Vos (Rabobank) 200 pts
2. Judith Arndt (Specialized-Lululemon) 139 pts
3. Emma Johansson (Hitec Products-Mistral Home) 86 pts
4. Kirsten Wild (AA 80 pts
5. Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-Lululemon) 75 pts
6. Trixi Worrack (Specialized-Lululemon) 62 pts
7. Adrie Visser (Skil-Argos) 56 pts
8. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabobank) 52 pts
9. Kristin Armstrong (USA) 50 pts
10. Tatiana Guderzo (IMCipollini-Giambenini) 50 pts


La Fleche Wallonne Men
Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) livened up the race when he decided to launch a breakaway only an hour into the race. He took Anthony Roux (FDJ-BigMat) along with him for the ride and the pair did very well to build up a lead that surpassed seven minutes for a short while before Lotto-Belisol declared their game was up and upped the pace to reel them back in.

Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) - perhaps remembering some of the basic things a professional cyclist is supposed to do during a race after spending the season so far gazing around and apparently wondering what he was doing on a bike - launched an attack with 42km to go. Precisely what he was hoping to achieve is known only to him: we'll have to assume it was an attempt to give big brother Frank (also RadioShack) a hand, with several descents to go it certainly wasn't going to win him this race because while Andy can climb like an angel he can't descend for love, money nor the glittery kitten stickers he probably collects. Which is why he ended up taking 81st place.

Joaquim Rodriguez
(image credit: Haggisnl
CC BY 3.0)
Joaquin Rodriguez, meanwhile, can downhill with the best of them - and he can climb too, which isn't a common combination. Having saved his fuel when Andy tried to tempt the peloton, he was able to light the afterburners on the final ascent of the Muur and for a time looked as though he was going to reach the finish line way ahead of the pack; but Michael Albasini and others responded well and came in just 4" behind him.

Men's Top Ten

  1. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver  Katusha  4h45'41"
  2. Michael Albasini  GreenEDGE  +4"
  3. Philippe Gilbert  BMC  ST
  4. Jelle Vanendert  Lotto-Belisol  ST
  5. Robert Kiserlovski  Astana  +7"
  6. Daniel Martin  Garmin-Barracuda  +9"
  7. Bauke Mollema  Rabobank  ST
  8. Vincenzo Nibali  Liquigas-Cannondale  ST
  9. Diego Ulissi  Lampre-ISD  ST
  10. Jurgen Van Den Broeck  Lotto-Belisol  ST

Best Brit: 138. Luke Rowe (Sky) +10'17"
(Full results)


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