Christophe Le-Mével notched a top-10 at Flèche Wallonne with an impressive ninth-place ride up the Mur de Huy to cap a solid day for Garmin-Cervélo at the Belgian classic.
Ryder Hesjedal bounced back from his stomach problems at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday to climb to 13th up the finish-line “wall” at Huy in good showing ahead of Sunday’s final spring classic at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“Christophe was riding well and we did well to get to the base of the Mur in good position,” Hesjedal said.
“When you get to the bottom of the climb, you just hope for the best. I was just behind Christophe and I had pretty good position. The Mur isn’t the best climb in the world for me. There’s a big acceleration and it takes me a little more time to get my rhythm. I came back on guys, but it’s short and quick. Today was a good day and now we all have eyes on Liège.”
Philippe Gilbert was unstoppable en route to a dramatic win just days after his victory at Amstel Gold Race, with Spaniards Joaquim Rodriguez and Samuel Sanchez rounding out the podium.
An early breakaway was swept up just before the final assault up the short, but extremely steep Mur de Huy summit finale. With ramps as steep as 20 percent, it’s every man for himself in a gritty test of will and strength. Le-Mével dug deep to keep position at the sharp end of the action to sneak into the top-10 with ninth at 12 seconds behind Gilbert’s winning time. Hesjedal slotted into 13th at 18 seconds adrift.
Up next for the classics squad is Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, one of the most demanding and most prestigious of the one-day spring classics. Hesjedal said Garmin-Cervélo will be ready to tackle the hilly, challenging route with ambitions of closing out the spring classics on a hight note.
“Today was a good indication for what lies in store for Sunday. Gilbert is strong right now, but Liège is Liège. There will be a lot of big riders on big teams with big ambitions. We’ll have to see what happens,” Hesjedal said.
“We’ve all been working hard to be ready for these races and Liège is the definitive race of the spring classics. Every rider dreams of winning it. I hope to be at my best and I can have the race I know I can have. I am feeling better after what happened Sunday at Amstel Gold. It was just one of those things. I got sick right at the decisive moment of the race and there was nothing I could. That’s bike racing. It was frustrating, but I know that the condition is there. We’ll be ready for Sunday.”
More photos from Flèche Wallonne: