Marc Hirschi has written the Walloon Arrow to his palmares. The Swiss from Sunweb was the fastest climber in the peloton on the Wall of Huy. Hirschi succeeds Julian Alaphilippe on the honors list. The brand new world champion, just like five-time winner Alejandro Valverde, was not there this year.
How did victory come about?
Four riders chose the hare path early on. Mauri Vansevenant (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Mathijs Paasschens (WB Bingoal) and Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) joined forces to start the long flight. The peloton let it go and quickly awarded the adventurous foursome a large bonus, which would add up to a maximum of ten minutes.
Then favorites Michal Kwiatkowski (INEOS Grenadiers) and Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) had had enough and let their teams take the chase. They received help from the troops of Tadej Pogacar, leader at UAE Team Emirates. Alessandro de Marchi (CCC Team) and Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) tried to cross over to the leading group with a duo time trial, but did not succeed.
At Deceunick – Quick-Step they sat in a seat with pedigree climber Vansevenant in the front and the frisky Italian Andrea Bagioli behind. Devenyns and Declercq therefore mainly stopped. Nevertheless, the peloton was rapidly approaching the front runners, where Poucke and Gaillard in the meantime should have released the rule. The signal for the 21-year-old Vansevenant to take off alone at 20 kilometers from the finish and leave Paasschens behind.
There was still some room for man from Deceunick – Quick-Step, because the peloton had to pull out all the stops. Former world champion Rui Costa accelerated, but blew back a few kilometers later. Then Rigoberto Uran’s attempt was more successful. The Colombian approached Vansevenant second by second and when the Belgian crashed, the gap was quickly filled. Together they hoped to summarize the Wall of Huy, but they were caught by the peloton before the foot.
We still got the usual group sprint uphill. Richie Porte tried from afar, but was taken by surprise. Woods seemed on his way to victory, but was rushed past in the last 50 meters by an unleashed Marc HirschiD. The Swiss is in top form and after a stage in the Tour now also wins the Walloon Arrow, in between he took bronze at the World Cup in Imola. Cosnefroy finished second, Woods was third.
What did the Belgians do?
Two countrymen in the long breakaway of the day, with neo-pro Mauri Vansevenant (Deceuninck-Quick Step) as the best known name. The 21-year-old top talent saw his WorldTour debut in the Dauphiné prematurely stopped due to illness and was keen on a good performance. Together with that other Belgian Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) he therefore opted for the attack. Vansevanant is known as an excellent climber and also showed that on the Walloon roads, uphill he was clearly the strongest at the front. He also claimed victory, but saw his hopes fade as he spun off the corner.
Ben Hermans had a bad day. Already on the first passage on the Wall of Huy, at 60 kilometers from the finish, he could not keep up with the pace of the chasing peloton.
Anything else you should know?
We mentioned two Belgians in the breakaway, but actually there were two and a half. Mathijs Paasschens may have Dutch nationality, but he has lived in Belgium since he was three.
Marc Hirschi (Sunweb)
2. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R)
3. Michael Woods (EF Education First)
4. Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa – Samsic)
5. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation)
6. Michal Kwiatkowski (INEOS Grenadiers)
7. Patrick Konrad (BORA – hansgrohe)
8. Richie Porte (Trek – Segafredo)
9. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)
10. Simon Geschke (CCC Team)
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