ANS, Belgium (Reuters) - Alejandro Valverde lived up to expectations when he timed his final effort to perfection to claim an emotional win in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic for the fourth time on Sunday.
The Movistar rider jumped away from a group of top guns with some 250 metres left to catch Dan Martin and easily outsprint the Irishman.
Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski took third place in the fourth of five ‘Monument’ classics as Valverde achieved the Fleche-Liege double for the third time after 2006 and 2015.
“My first words are to dedicate this victory to Michele Scarponi, who was a great friend of mine,” Spaniard Valverde said as tears rolled down his cheeks. “My prize money will go to his family.”
Italian Scarponi died on Saturday after being hit by a van during a training ride.
There was a minute of applause before the start of Sunday’s 258-km race in memory of Scarponi, with his Astana team mates wearing black armbands.
Italian Davide Formolo attacked at the top of the penultimate climb, the Cote de Saint-Nicolas, and opened a 10-second gap over a group of some 20, but he faded with a kilometre to go.
Martin sped away from the leading group but there was no stopping Valverde, who added to his Tour of Murcia, Tour of Catalonia, Tour of Andalucia, Tour of the Basque Country and Fleche Wallonne titles.
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Fallon