BRUSSELS (AP) — Daniel Moreno of Spain left his rivals standing on the final steep climb to the finish line to win the Walloon Arrow WorldTour classic on Wednesday.
Sergio Henao was second and another Colombian, Carlos Betancur, held on for third place also three seconds behind the winner, after he made the early jump up the Wall of Huy climb. Moreno bided his time and swept past Betancur 150 meters from the line.
Moreno was supposed to race in support of his Katusha leader Joaquin Rodriguez, but the Spaniard faded on the final climb to finish sixth and was unable to win two years in a row.
"I succeeded in winning my favorite race," said Moreno, who clinched the biggest race of his career at 31.
Best known for his climbing abilities, he has been more renowened for his multi-stage results than one-day classics.
The 205-kilometer (127-mile) race through the verdant hills of southern Belgium enjoyed sun and dry, perfect racing conditions, in sharp contrast to many of the other spring classics.
Since the race often delivers the pack all together at the foot of the final climb of the Wall of Huy, organizers added two more hills to make it more selective, but to no avail. All breakaways were reined in by the time the final kilometer (half a mile) was ready to decide the race.
Moreno automatically becomes the favorite for Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the oldest one-day classic on the calendar and one of the biggest.
Wednesday's results hardly had an impact on the WorldTour standings. Fabian Cancellara, who did not compete in the Walloon Arrow, still leads ahead of Peter Sagan, who faded out of the top finishers late in the Wall of Huy climb.