Welcome to the inevitable. Five kilometers left to go in Fleche Wallonne.
All the big guns moving up., Leopard Andy Schleck working for his brother Frank move up. Despite an earlier crash, Damiano Cunego moves up.
SImon Gerrans of Sky, fresh off a terrific 3rd place in Amstel Gold, moves up. Katusha and Joaquin Rodriguez, a man made for the Mur, moves up. Samuel Sanchez of Euskatel-Euskadi, second in Fleche Wallonne in 2006, moves up.
Saxo Bank’s Alberto Contador, sand-bagging about being ill, moves up.
All the heads of state, the big stars, the heavy hitters, the big guns ready to fire. They hit the Mur de Huy, 9.3 per cent gradient, 1.3 kilometers of searing pain leading to potential glory.
Philippe Gilbert attacks. He powers away, looks back and see no response, rips up the Mur, looks back again, sees nothing except resignation. Not another rider in the picture as he crosses the finish line solo.
Rodriguez is a beaten second, Sanchez a crushed third and the rest of Gilbert’s rivals are left to wonder if they ever even had an outside chance.
Omega-Pharma-Lotto’s Philippe Gilbert delivers the victory. Next move: on to Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Who will stop the hat-trick?