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“In the beginning of the race I did have some nuisance of my knee, but it was better than expected. It didn’t hinder me and that gave a boost. I could finish the race in a normal way," Vanendert says

Photo: Sirotti

FLECHE WALLONNE

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JELLE VANENDERT

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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23.04.2014 @ 20:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After his excellent 2nd place at the Amstel Gold Race, Jelle Vanendert had had a lot of doubt for the Fleche Wallonne as knee pain made him almost unable to ride his bike. However, he bounced back from his woes with a strong ride in today's Belgian classic as he took a fine sixth and was close to another podium.

 

Although Jelle Vanendert had doubts yesterday after his crash in the Amstel Cold Race, in which he hurt his knee, the Lotto Belisol rider did become sixth in the Flèche Wallonne today. The victory was for the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. Tim Wellens rode very attentively in the final and together with Tony Gallopin he dropped Vanendert off at the last climb.
 
It took twenty kilometers before the break of the day was formed. It only counted three riders. Next to Jonathan Clarke and Ramunas Navardauskas also Preben Van Hecke was part of it, just like in the Amstel. The trio got up to 8’45”.
 
In the second half of the race Lotto Belisol came to the front. Sander Armée took the lead of the bunch and helped to reduce the gap. On the Côte de Bohisseau, Clarke had to let go of his companions, almost 50 kilometers were left to go at that point.
 
On the second ascent of the Mur de Huy Tim Wellens arrived at the top with the five best of the peloton, they had a slight advantage on the others. Jelle Vanendert was also positioned on the front rows.
 
The peloton had brought the gap to the two leaders down to less than half a minute. On the Côte d’Ereffe, the penultimate climb of the day, Wellens accelerated and Navardauskas and Van Hecke were caught. Jérémy Roy created a gap within the last eight kilometers, but didn’t make it.
 
Vanedert got perfectly dropped off at the foot of the Mur de Huy and finished sixth. Alejandro Valverde won, Daniel Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski joined him on the podium. Jurgen Van den Broeck was 20th.
 
“In the beginning of the race I did have some nuisance of my knee, but it was better than expected," Vanendert said. I"t didn’t hinder me and that gave a boost. I could finish the race in a normal way.
 
"The team dropped me off perfectly at the foot of the Mur de Huy. Tim Wellens rode very well, like planned he reacted attentively to all attempts from the peloton. Tony Gallopin did also help me to get a good position to start the last climb.”
 
“I’m satisfied with my sixth place. On the final climb I might have started a bit too soon, but nobody moved and I decided to open the debates, to be ahead of some riders. I obviously felt good.
 
"There’s a small difference between the second and fifteenth place. In the Amstel I became second, but if I had been a tad less good on the Cauberg I might have become eighth. If I had some more luck today, I would have stood on the podium.
 
"These two races have given me confidence for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I’m curious to see what I can achieve there.”
 
“The Mur de Huy can’t hide anything, the strongest have played along for the top places," manager Marc Sergeant said. "In the beginning of the climb Jelle was very attentive and we hoped for a podium place. He accelerated with 300 meters to go, but fell back.
 
"When you see how Valverde made the difference; he continued his acceleration much further. Jelle also lost some power after battling with Kwiatkowski for a good position.
 
"We shouldn’t complain, Jelle has done very well with a second place in the Amstel and a sixth here in the Flèche Wallonne.
 
"Maybe we should have had a man in the break. The leaders were strong and the peloton had to work hard to get them back. We put Sander Armée in the chase, also Katusha and Movistar had to ride. Anyhow after the first hilly classics we can be satisfied.”

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