Mitchelton-SCOTT crash out of contention in La Flèche Wallonne with Howson the last one standingWed 24 Apr 2019
Mitchelton-SCOTT lost their chances of a podium finish today in the mid-week Classic, La Flèche Wallonne, after unfortunate luck throughout the day saw six out of the seven riders involved in crashes and forced out of contention.
Damien Howson was the only rider to finish the race for the team, entering the bottom of the Mur de Huy in the whittled down main group, before climbing into 28th place behind the winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
The team’s main hope for the day, Adam Yates, crashed just as the race was lighting up, ahead of the penultimate ascent of the Mur de Huy and was forced to withdraw from the race. Thankfully all riders escaped without any major injuries.
In the opening 20kilometres, five-riders jumped away from the bunch and with no real threats and a long way to go, the peloton were happy to let them gain an advantage of over five-minutes.
With nine of the 11 climbs coming inside the final 100kilometres, the time gap hovered around the same distance until the first time up the brutal Mur de Huy.
The luck turns
After the much anticipated climb, everything looked to be going well for the team, with many riders still well represented towards the front of the race, as key splits began to occur and the breakaway was almost drawn back in.
Then, as the race headed around the first of two finishing laps, multiple crashes happened in close succession and in a drastic turn if events suddenly the team was down to just one rider, Howson.
"Today flipped on its head pretty quickly, unfortunately with many crashes throughout the race and most of the team went down or had been involved one way or another.
"I felt pretty good from the start and I was there to support our leader Adam. Coming into the final lap after Adam fell I was the only one left for us.
"I was already feeling the efforts I made throughout the day but I wanted to still try and salvage something for the team."
Matt White - Head Sport Director
“Six out of seven riders were involved in crashes, some of them multiple. Lucky for us is that nobody was seriously injured but obviously Adam Yates going down with Nick Schultz and four or five others coming in with one lap to go, that was our day done.
“By the looks of it everybody looks to be ok for Sunday.”
La Flèche Wallonne Results:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 4:55:14
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) ST
3. Diego Ulissi (UAE) +0:06
28. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:56
Photos courtesy of Getty Images