Dan Martin withdraws from Flèche Wallonne after crash

Cannondale-Garmin rider’s hopes of victory in Belgium ended by fall

Dan Martin was forced to pull out of the Flèche Wallonne Classic after a crash. Photograph: Inpho

Dan Martin was forced to pull out of the Flèche Wallonne Classic after a crash. Photograph: Inpho

 

Sixth, fourth and then second in the past three editions, Dan Martin’s aim of winning Flèche Wallonne evaporated after he was involved in a big crash in the Classic race.

The Cannondale-Garmin rider was one of many who came down in the crashes which peppered the hilly Belgian event on Wednesday, and was left chasing the bunch on the first of three ascents of the steep Mur de Huy climb.

The Irishman managed to rejoin the peloton thanks to the help of his team-mates, but the effects of his fall later caused him to withdraw. He had hit his head and decided to play things safe.

He won the 2013 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and having crashed in the final corner while looking like the likely winner last year, wants to give himself the best possible chance of recovering in time for Sunday’s event.

Full fitness

Martin has shown solid form of late, riding aggressively in the Volta a Catalunya and then finishing in the lead group in last Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. His penchant for steep climbs did mark him out as one of the big favourites for Flèche Wallonne, and that same ability should stand to him providing he is back to full fitness for Sunday’s race.

Fellow Irishman Philip Deignan also missed out due to a crash in Flèche Wallonne, while his Sky team-mate Nicolas Roche finished 23 seconds behind the winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), placing 27th.

Valverde also took the race in 2006 and in 2014. He was strongest on the final climb of the Mur de Huy, beating the French man Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx- Quick-Step) and the Swiss rider Michael Albasini (Orica GreenEdge). Valverde was second in the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday and will be one of the favourites for Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

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