Joaquin Rodriguez went long to win Flèche Wallonne today in Belgium. He stomped free 350 metres left up the infamous ramps of the Mur de Huy. That distance is reserved for super champions in the peak of their form, like Philippe Gilbert last year.
“If you’re good,” BMC Racing’s Gilbert said, “that’s the place to attack.”
The Spaniard of team Katusha closed the 194-kilometre race with a violent attack up the 1.3-kilometre climb. It was not surprising as he was the favourite ahead of the race with 11 to 4 odds. What was shocking was the distance covered, usually riders explode in that time and a rival sneaks by for the win.
Gilbert, yet to reach his 2011 form, didn’t dare try such a long attack.
“I knew it was 300 metres to go, at 20K an hour, that’s 30 seconds full out,” explained Gilbert. “I knew I couldn’t do that, so I waited a little bit.”
“When it works, it’s never too soon,” Katusha’s general manager, Hans-Michael Holczer told Cycling Weekly. “He got himself a good lead. It wasn’t like Amstel Gold; here the winner could cheer before the finish line.”
Rodriguez finished with four seconds over Belgium’s Gilbert and Swiss Michael Albasini (GreenEdge). He judged his move on Gilbert’s win last year.
“I knew where Gilbert attacked, at first I had a few doubts to do so there,” Rodriguez said. “I thought maybe yes, maybe no, but then I just went with it.”
Katusha worked for his win today, controlling with team Lotto-Belisol. Daniel Moreno placed ‘Purito’ Rodriguez at the foot of the Mur to attack free.
“We could control it to the point where the decision had to be made,” continued Holczer. “Purito was at the point and able to make the decision. These races don’t happen everyday.”