Daniel Moreno (Katusha) took his “most important” career win in Flèche Wallonne today in Belgium.
“It’s the most important win of my career,” he said, “and it came on my favourite race of the year.”
The Spaniard won two stages in the Critérium du Dauphiné last year. In 2011, a Vuelta a España stage and the Tour of Piedmont.
He followed up a solo bid by Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) today. Betancur shot free just under the one-kilometre banner and almost foiled the favourites.
World Champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) watched Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), who watched Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Betancur looked ahead. He looked as if he was going to become the race’s first Colombian winner.
The Mur de Huy, rising steep above Huy and the Meuse River, often kills any early attempts. It did so today.
Rodríguez, who crashed in Amstel Gold, positioned his best mate Moreno. Sagan faded. Gilbert faded. Moreno, 31 years old from Madrid, shot ahead.
“‘Purito’ was a little banged up from his crash, so we discussed that I would start the race as the leader, but it also depended on how each of us felt during the race,” Moreno continued.
“I felt good and ‘Purito’ worked for me. Betancur tried from a long attack and he made it difficult for us. Only two of us got past him.”
Betancur held on for third. Giving him company, Sky’s Colombian Sergio Henao nabbed second.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) nearly upset the Colombian 2-3 podium, placing fourth and confirming he is still hot after his Tour of Catalonia win.
Over to Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Moreno will celebrate tonight, toasting with ‘Purito’ Rodriguez. On Sunday, they will reverse roles.
After banging up his left leg, Rodriguez hopes to be back and firing for his main objective, Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Sports director Valerio Piva, who waited off to the side at Moreno’s press conference, nodded his head in agreement.
“Now we have to wait to see how ‘Purito’ recovers,” Piva said. “The plan was to race him here and have him ready for Sunday – it’s looking good.”