Valverde claims fourth straight Flèche Wallonne triumph
The Spanish Movistar rider won a fifth Ardennes classic overall and continued his dominance of the race after wins in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Spanish rider Alexander Valverde notched up a fifth career victory in the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, with Ireland's Dan Martin taking second at the finish on the Mur de Huy summit.
The 36-year-old Movistar rider has made the Ardennes classic his own since 2014, having claimed his first success in 2006.
He saw off Martin by one second at the end of the 204.5 kilometre ride with Belgian rider Dylan Teuns completing the Fleche podium in third.
"The key thing in this race is to be patient," said Valverde.
Valverde favourite for Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Valverde will be the hot favourite for Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the fourth of five 'Monument' classics on the calendar.
Valverde, who has won the Tour of Murcia, Tour of Andalusia, Tour of Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country this year, powered away some 150 metres from the line on the punishing Mur de Huy, a 1.3-km climb averaging 9.3 percent gradient with a passage at 26 percent.
Martin came in one second behind the Spaniard, with Belgian Dylan Teuns taking third place.
France's David Gaudu, at 20 the youngest rider in the bunch, attacked with 250 metres left but Valverde was lying in wait and accelerated shortly afterwards to add a fourth consecutive win to the Fleche title he claimed in 2006. Gaudu, one of the hottest prospects in cycling, took ninth place.
Flèche Wallonne 2017 standings
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar), 204,5km in 5h15:37.
2. Dan Martin (IRL/QST) at 01".
3. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BMC) at 01".
4. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) at 01".
5. Michael Albasini (SWI/ORI) at 01".
6. Warren Barguil (FRA/SUN) at 01".
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/SKY) at 01".
8. Rudy Molard (FRA/FDJ) at 01".
9. David Gaudu (FRA/FDJ) at 01".
10. Diego Ulissi (ITA/EAU) 01".
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