The Moment The Worlds Were Won

350 metres to go and Alejandro Valverde leads. He opens up the sprint and wins, holding off the challenge by Romain Bardet to stay clear and finally land the gold medal and rainbow jersey that had eluded him.

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The Moment The Flèche Wallonne Was Won

Julian Alaphilippe surges past Jelle Vanendert with Alejandro Valverde several metres behind, in the picture but for once out of contention. The Flèche has a new winner in Julian Alaphilippe although almost an old hand given he’s been on the podium here twice before. It was a good edition of a race that had become cycling’s equivalent of a repeat edition.

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Efficiency Rankings

Alejandro Valverde, Flèche Wallonne, April 2017

Marcel Kittel and Fernando Gaviria both finished the season on 14 wins and arguably Kittel had the better season with five stage wins in the Tour de France, perhaps he should given his age and status. Both he and his team mate won over a fifth of the races they started but the most efficient rider of the year was Alejandro Valverde who won 30% of the races he competed in.

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Liège-Bastogne-Liège Preview

The last of the spring classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a race of transition. Part Belgian classic, part-mountain stage and a rare chance to see the grand tour specialists go all-in for one day over a tough course. There are ten marked climbs, countless more rises and a new cobbled climb right before the finish.

Alejandro Valverde is the obvious pick as he hopes to double-up his Flèche Wallonne win but this is a harder race to control and bad weather could make the race wilder still. Here’s the usual preview with the route, contenders, ratings, TV times and more.

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Who Will Win The Tour de France?

The closer the race gets the more uncertain the outcome. The year began with Chris Froome as the nailed on certainty but gradually Alberto Contador’s results made people take notice and his ride in the Dauphiné means we could have a three week duel. But now Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde are on the up too and the more names we throw into the mix, the closer the contest.

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Friday Shorts

I didn’t bother with a “The Moment The Race Was Won” piece for the Flèche Wallonne because the race is so predictable. It’s got a tough course and a hard fight just to get to the foot of the final climb. But it always comes down to the final kilometre and the Mur de Huy. North of the Pyrenees Twitter wasn’t full of joy at Valverde’s win. Indeed there were insinuations of doping and overnight I got a couple of emails asking if Valverde is doping, after all he’d set the fastest every time up the Mur.

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The Moment The Race Was Won: The Worlds

Joaquim Rodriguez Florence 2013

Four ride into Florence. Joaquim Rodriguez attacks on the final bump of the day and Vincenzo Nibali chases with Alejandro Valverde and Rui Costa following. Soon they will round the final bend and Costa will take off and to close in on Rodriguez. The acceleration is enough to isolate Valverde and close the gap to Rodriguez leaving a two man sprint. This was the moment the race was won.

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The Moment The Race Was Won: Tour de Suisse

Rui Costa Tour de Suisse Verbier

The Tour of Switzerland is arguably the fourth biggest stage race on the calendar. Prestigious, historic, challenging and at the height of the season this is an important event on the calendar. The 2012 race was won by Rui Costa (Movistar).

He staked his claim on Stage 2, the first road stage of the race with a summit finish in the upmarket ski resort of Verbier. The race passed over the Simplon Pass, plenty to tire the legs. As they approached the foot of the final climb the pace was fierce and a select group formed on the final climb. From this Frank Schleck attacked with six kilometres to go, a man who can now carry the adjective “aggressive” after several sharp moves during the week. It was a strong move but the group began to close in and Rui Costa jumped out. He passed Schleck in the final moments of the stage, overhauling him by just four seconds and taking the overall lead by eight seconds. This late move to catch and pass Schleck was the moment the race was won.

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