The world champion was hardly seen throughout the race until being guided to the front by his team in the build-up to the final climb. He then chased down Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) on the Mur de Huy and went past him in the last 75 metres of the race. The 28-year-old Frenchman won the La Flèche Wallonne for the third time in his career.
“I wanted to show people I was strong in the head,” Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) said after the race. “I haven’t won a lot since the beginning of the season; it was important to me to raise my arms again. I wanted so much to win again on such a hard race. I’m proud of my teammates, they did a wonderful job to put me in the best position. Then, the legs do the talking. I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy with Roglič, Valverde and everyone in my wheel. This one really feels good, with the jersey.”
Primož Roglič pulled out a formidable gap and victory was within reach for the Grand Tour winner. However, the Slovenian admitted that Alaphilippe was just better in the end.
“It was a fast race all day and nothing surprising at the end, we were going a bloc and Julian had a little more so he definitely deserved to win. I was just finished and if I had more I would go faster, but he deserved to win.”
Alaphilippe joined Anna van der Breggen as the race winner, meaning both world champions took the victory. Anna Van der Breggen won for the seventh and final time in her career. She will retire at the end of the season.
Flèche Wallonne 2021 results
- Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) – 4:36:25
- Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)
- Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) + 6s
- Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) + 8s
- Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) + 11s
- Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers)
- David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)
- Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange)
- Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)
- Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) + 16s