Daniel Moreno, who so often rides in support of Joaquim Rodriguez, has succeeded his Katusha team mate on the roll of winners of Flèche Wallonne, sealing the biggest win of his career this afternoon.
Moreno, presumably given a late nod to go for the win with Rodriguez suffering the effects of his crash in Sunday's Amstel Gold - he still got a top ten finish, but didn't challenge in the finale - had followed a move by Philippe Gilbert of BMC Racing on the final climb of the Mur de Huy at the end of the 205 kilometre race, as the world champion sought to respond to an attack from AG2R's Carlos Betancur.
It was the Katusha man who proved stronger, timing his move to perfection, as he dropped Gilbert and overhauled Betancur ahead of the line. Team Sky's Sergio Henao finished second, with fellow Colombian Betancur just holding on to take third from Garmin-Sharp's Dan Martin.
An early break had been brought back as the race headed into its final 50 kilometres, with Laurens Ten Dam of Blanco and AG2R’s Romain Bardet launching a counter attack.
However, they too would be swept up ahead of the second of the days’ three ascents of the Mur de Huy, with BMC Racing forcing the pace on behalf of Gilbert, winner here in 2011, the year he became only the second man to secure a clean sweep of all three Ardennes Classics in the same season.
Subsequent attacks were also neutralised, Marcus Burghardt putting in a huge effort at the front for BMC.
Team-mate Gilbert’s rainbow jersey was prominent near the front of a big group that crossed the bridge over the Meuse for the final time ahead of that brutal climb to the finish, the last of the 12 climbs that peppered today’s parcours.
Betancur launched himself early on that final, 1.3 kilometre ascent, one on which the decisive attack typically comes further up the road. Gilbert led the chase, tracked by Moreno and Cannondale’s Peter Sagan, but looking wary of not going full throttle too early.
When Moreno launched his attack, however, Sagan was already fading and Gilbert proved unable to respond to the Spaniard’s race-winning move as he rode on to catch and pass Betancur inside the final 100 metres.
Flèche Wallonne result 1 Daniel MORENO Katusha 04:52:33 2 Sergio HENAO Sky at 3 secs 3 Carlos BETANCUR AG2R " 4 Daniel MARTIN Garmin-Sharp " 5 Michal KWIATKOWSKI Omega Pharma-Quick Step " 6 Joaquin RODRIGUEZ Katusha at 8 secs 7 Alejandro VALVERDE Movistar " 8 Igor ANTON Euskaltel " 9 Bauke MOLLEMA Blanco " 10 Rinaldo NOCENTINI AG2R "
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.