With the early breakaway, which was at one point sitting more than nine minutes ahead of the bunch, hovering around four minutes 30 seconds up the road, De Marchi launched an impressive attack off the front of the peloton just after entering the finishing circuit, which included a brutal trio of climbs: the Côte d’Ereffe, the Côte du chemin des Gueuses, and the iconic Mur de Huy.
De Marchi was joined by Ide Schelling (BORA – hansgrohe) and the pair worked well to go clear of the main bunch in an attempt to bridge across to the front of the race before CCC Team’s Italian rider, who is known for his ability to win from the breakaway, pushed on solo as he continued his gutsy effort going onto the final 32-kilometer lap.
However, despite his best efforts, De Marchi slotted back into the bunch after being caught with 25 kilometers to go, the reduced peloton continued to chase the last two riders from the breakaway, and in the end, the race was back together just in time for the final ascent of the iconic Mur de Huy ascent with the stage set for a battle royale, which would eventually be won by winner Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb).
Geschke, who had been positioned well by his teammates and looked in good form in the closing kilometers, was right at the front of the field as the fireworks began going under the flamme rouge on the 1.3-kilometer climb that had an average gradient of 9.6 percent.
The German rider, who came to the race after solid performances at both the Tour de France and the UCI World Championships, dug deep on the steep slopes and eventually found the extra kick needed to sprint to the line to secure tenth place.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“I am really happy with a top 10 finish here because except for finishing sixth at the Amstel Gold Race a couple of years back, it is my best result in one of the Ardennes Classics. My shape continues to be good after the Tour de France and the team did a wonderful job to bring me in position today. Unfortunately, Amstel is canceled this year but I‘m super motivated to continue like this in the next two races, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Brabantse Pijl.”
Alessandro De Marchi:
“The plan was to see what might be possible on the final three laps. Every year I do this race and I know that the final circuit is always the place where something can happen and today, on paper, the race looked quite open and there were some teams who looked ready to work but they weren’t really convinced. So, I thought it was a good option to try immediately once we entered the circuit and in the end, it didn’t work maybe because we missed a couple of extra guys in the group. I think in another situation, with more guys and more strength in the group, I think it would have been easier to jump across to the front of the race and from that point, the outcome could have been different. I am happy with my legs however and I how I felt on the bike so it’s onto the next race to see what is possible.”
Valerio Piva, Sports Director:
“The plan was to jump in the early breakaway but, okay, the guys tried at the start but only four guys went away in the end. We then wanted to move at the beginning of the laps around Huy, racing aggressively to try to avoid the traditional finish as we didn’t have one of the ‘big’ favorites for the race. It was Dema who was able to force that move but, unfortunately, he went with only one other rider, I expected maybe two or three guys to go with him and try to close the gap to the breakaway earlier and have more of a chance. It was still a good move and a good performance from Dema while behind, the guys stayed around Geschke and helped bring him to the foot of the Mur in a good position for the finish. A top ten finish was our objective so, while we just achieved that, I am happy with what we did today and everybody was there.”
La Flèche Wallonne
Top 3: 1. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) 2. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) 3. Michael Woods (EF Education First)
CCC Team Top 3: 10. Simon Geschke 39. Jan Hirt 57. Georg Zimmermann