A few days after his top 15 on the Flèche Wallonne, Rudy Molard was again in the mix on Sunday, in the third Monument of the season: Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Heading to the finish line inside a chasing group that was fighting for 6th, fifteen seconds behind winner Primoz Roglic, the 31-year-old Frenchman eventually placed thirteenth and could not be satisfied about it.

“Valentin was not in a great day”, Franck Pineau

On Sunday morning in Liège, it didn’t take long to see a breakaway go in the autumn version of the Ardennes Monument. Inigo Elosegui (Movistar), Valentin Ferron, Paul Ourselin (Total-Direct Energie), Omer Goldstein (Israel-Start Up Nation) Kobe Goossens (Lotto-Soudal), Gino Mader (Team NTT), Mathijs Paasschens, Kenny Molly (Bingo- Wallonie-Bruxelles) and Michael Schär (CCC) took the lead, but world champion Julian Alaphilippe’s Deceuninck Quick Step made sure not to let the gap grow too much. It remained of about four minutes for a long time, but got reduced by half as the riders entered the last hundred kilometers, where the course really got harder. “The instructions were quite similar to those of the Flèche Wallonne: to protect Rudy and Valentin,” said Franck Pineau. “For about 140 kilometers, William [Bonnet] did a great work, then Matthieu Ladagnous and Romain Seigle took over. We had Bruno [Armirail] and Anthony [Roux] left to do the job beyond the 200km marker, and they did it. The race was not that lively today and the selection was mostly done from the back until the last climb. The pace got really tough in the Côte des Forges that’s true, but there were still 80 riders left in the group at that point”.

A quite big peloton therefore got to the bottom of the Roche-aux-Faucons climb, and the plan was crystal clear for Groupama-FDJ. “Just after La Redoute, Valentin told us he was not in a great day,” said Franck. “We then switched and put everything on Rudy. Valentin replaced him after Les Forges to tackle the descent, and Rudy was in a good position to start La Roche-aux-Faucons. Then Dumoulin blew everything up, Julian Alaphilippe attacked and the royal breakaway of the four took shape”. The world champion, Marc Hirschi, Primoz Roglic as well as Tadej Pogacar took a clear advantage, and only Matej Mohoric was able to  join them thanks to the downhill – his specialty -. As for Rudy Molard, he was in a good position just behind. “It was impossible for me to follow Julian’s attack,” said the Frenchman. “I was only able to stay in the chasing group, but I was already happy to be there at the top of La Roche-aux-Faucons. At that point, we hardly were five or six”. However, other riders joined the chase a few moments after. Later on, while Primoz Roglic took the victory from an overconfident Julian Alaphilippe – who then got relegated for making a wave in the final sprint -, Rudy Molard got in the home stretch aiming for a top result.

“There is a bit of disappointment today”, Franck Pineau

“I’m fighting for sixth place, and I’m not getting in the top 10, it’s really frustrating,” he said. “I really wanted to be in the top ten. I’m disappointed to be thirteenth, especially as I was among the top ten in La Roche-aux-Faucons. I felt pretty good but I completely missed my sprint. On a Monument, it makes a real difference to be in the top 10 or thirteenth … I’m still happy with the feelings, but we came here for the top 10 and we missed it”. “On the Flèche Wallonne, he did the best result possible, because he was not feeling so well and had not completely recovered from the Worlds. Today, however, there is a bit of disappointment because he really had the legs for the top 10”, added Franck Pineau. “It’s a shame that a sprint decided the top 10 after 260 kilometres, but it is how it is. Rudy was doing really well, he was at a very good level and you can see that when looking at the day’s top ten. Making 7th or 13th is not the same for us, but other than this sprint, there was no mistake today. All the guys met the expectations”.

For the Groupama-FDJ’s man of the day, it is now time to head to Paris-Tours as the Amstel Gold Race got cancelled. “Then there will be the Tour of Flanders, normally, Rudy concluded. I have never competed in this race but always dreamed of doing it. With Valentin and Stefan, it can be fun!”

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