Tadej Pogacar, winner of his first Walloon Flèche, can dream of an Ardennes hat-trick
Slovenian runner Tadej Pogacar attacks in the wall of Huy (Belgium), during the Flèche wallonne,…
This time, he will not have attacked far from the finish. The Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) offered himself, Wednesday April 19, his first success on the Walloon Flèche, at the end of a race where he was never put in difficulty.
The Slovenian rider took down all his opponents at the top of the wall in Huy (Belgium), after accelerating 150 meters from the line. He is ahead of Danish rider Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafredo) and Spaniard Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious). On the French side, Victor Lafay (Cofidis) achieved the best French performance, taking sixth place. Romain Bardet (DSM), who attacked in the final, finished ninth, just ahead of his compatriot Warren Barguil (Arkea Samsic).
At 24, Pogacar has therefore finally conquered “La Flèche”, a race in which he was participating for the fourth time, and which had never smiled on him until then – he had never done better than a ninth place. At the same time, he achieves a new success after winning the Amstel Gold Race, Sunday April 16, and is therefore in a position to achieve the Ardennes classics hat-trick, in the event of victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Sunday April 23. A performance achieved only twice in the past: by the Italian Davide Rebellin, in 2004, and by the Belgian Philippe Gilbert, in 2010.
A harvest of victories
Everything went as planned for the team of the Slovenian prodigy. Setting a strong pace at the front of the peloton, notably under the impetus of the Italian Diego Ulissi and the Swiss Marc Hirschi, the UAE Team Emirates controlled a breakaway from a distance which never counted more than two minutes ahead of the pack. Composed of seven riders at the start, it gradually lost elements, until only Soren Kragh Andersen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) remained in the last forty kilometers.
The leading men were then joined by Samuele Battistella (Astana) and Louis Vervaeke (Soudal-Quick Step), who accelerated on the second climb of the Huy wall. The latter then embarked on a solitary journey, eight kilometers from the finish, dropping his breakaway companions in the penultimate difficulty, the Côte de Cherave. The Belgian rider was picked up by the peloton in the first hectometres of the final climb of the Huy wall and faded behind the explanation between leaders, in which Tadej Pogacar remained seated in his saddle, mastering the rare offensives. Until placing his, victorious, at the ideal moment.
The double winner of the Tour de France therefore continues his harvest of victories, and confirms his start to the season, marked by victories in Paris-Nice and on the Tour of Flanders. To achieve the Ardennes treble in Liège on Sunday, he will probably have to face more adversity. Indeed, the Soudal Quick-Step team is expected on the last classic of the season with a more solid team, composed of Julian Alaphilippe, back from injury, and the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, who will come to defend his title.