• Julian Alaphilippe crests the Mur to victory. (Getty)Source: Getty
After four Flèche Wallonne wins on the trot Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was finally beaten by perhaps a younger version of himself, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors).
Cycling Central

19 Apr 2018 - 6:04 AM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2018 - 9:05 AM

Alaphjilippe finished four seconds ahead of Valverde while Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) crossed in third at six seconds at the end of the 198.5km classic from Seraing to Huy.

Attacks went from the gun and a group of six riders, including Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Samsic), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), Cesare Benedetti (BORA-hansgrohe), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Romain Combaud (Delko Marseille Provence KTM) and Patrick Müller (Vital Concept Cycling Club) quickly got away.

Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Antoine Warnier (VB Aqua Protect Veranclassic) joined them after 20km. The group enjoyed a maximum lead of 5min 25sec as they tackled the first climb.

Alejandro Valverde’s Movistar team and Dan Martin’s UAE Team Emirates quickly took the front positions of the pack to control the gap. The attackers lead was down to 4min 10sec atop the côte de la Redoute after 82km.

The peloton maintained the gap around four minutes before accelerating on the way to Huy where the break's advantage was reduced to 1min 25sec.

Once the break was collected the attacks kept coming until another group of six managed to go clear with 37km to the finish.

Australian Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Cesare Benedetti (BORA-hansgrohe), Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) crafted a lead of 40sec as they faced the Mur de Huy for the penultimate climb.

The gap increased to 55sec with 17km to go, until Mikel Landa (Movistar) received some help with Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) to shut it down.

Roux and Benedetti got dropped in the Côte de Cherave while the peloton made gains. Kangert and Nibali were caught at the foot of the final climb, while Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) went on his own, only to be caught with 200m to go by teammate Alaphilippe.