Haig in the breakaway sets up Kreuziger for fourth place in La Fleche WallonneWed 18 Apr 2018
Recent runner-up in Amstel Gold Race, Roman Kreuziger, continued his strong showing of form today in the Ardennes as he fought to fourth place on the steep slopes of the Mur de Huy in La Fleche Wallonne.
Mitchelton-SCOTT had numbers to their advantage in the final of the race, as young climber Jack Haig had an impressive ride, making it into a late and dangerous breakaway, to remain ahead of the race until the final half of the Mur de Huy climb.
The first move
In the opening stages of the 198kilometre day, eight riders formed the day’s main breakaway and headed out to a five minute advantage. As the headed up the Mur de Huy for the first of three times, their advantage plummet down to just 30seconds.
The peloton split as expected over the steep climb, and soon after the breakaway riders were absorbed as they started the local finishing laps around Huy.
Haig on the hunt
Immediately after the catch was made a small group clipped off the front and included Jack Haig for Mitchelton-SCOTT. The group increased their advantage to around 45seconds for the remained of the race, until the penultimate climb of the day.
The six-rider group shattered on the Cote de Cherave but Haig battled on, to remain ahead with Max Schachmann (Quickstep-Floors). The duo worked hard to stay ahead and started the climb with a small advantage.
The final Mur de Huy
As Haig was finally swallowed up by the remaining climbers, Kreuziger found himself well positioned as the race exploded. Kreuziger stayed around the mark at the front all the way up the steep climb until the final winning acceleration by Alaphilippe. Kreuziger fought on to cross the line in fourth place and further confirmation of his top form.
Roman Kreuziger - 4th place
“The team today was amazing all day around me and Jack had a really strong ride up in the break and then at least I could be a bit more relaxed in the bunch and wait for the finale. I knew the guys like Alaphilippe and Valverde were the to look at. I was in a perfect position with one kilometre to go on the wheel of Alaphilippe but just wasn’t able to follow him when he started to go full gas.
"I remembered the words from Albasini because he gave me some suggestions because he is really good on this climb. For me to be fourth on the Mur de Huy is a really good and it is the sign of really good shape and it is a confirmation that for Sunday I can be relaxed and keep the focus because the podium is in the region.”
Jack Haig - Breakaway ride
“I am really happy to have a good race today and get into that break and really test the legs before Liege and also I think it worked out perfectly for the team. We always had a plan of racing these circuits aggressively because we knew Roman had good legs and the first time over the Mur it was Rob Power and I constantly attacking, and I managed to get into the right move.”
“I tried my luck on the penultimate climb and down the descent I knew that I could use my descending to my advantage and try to get a bit of a gap and that’s what happened, with the gap holding until part way up the Mur for the final time.
“Roman is in super form at the moment and it’s great because we go into Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday with a genuine contender for the win and you can tell by the way we have been racing over the last two races that we want to be aggressive and we have a lot of strength in depth within the team.”
La Fleche Wallonne results:
1. Julian Alaphilipe (Quickstep-Floors) 4:53:37
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:04
3. Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal) +0:06
4. Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Photos courtesy of Getty Images