Di Luca shoots to top of standings
HUY, Belgium -- Italian Danilo Di Luca beat Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen to win the Fleche Wallonne classic in Huy, Belgium, and take the lead in the ProTour standings.
The 29-year-old Liquigas rider added the classic to the Amstel Gold Race which he won on Sunday.
He is one win away from emulating compatriot Davide Rebellin in capturing the three Ardennes classics - the final one is the Liege-Bastogne-Liege next Sunday.
Di Luca's 40 points for victory gave him a total of 131 in the overall standings, pushing Tom Boonen of Belgium into second place with 112.
Oscar Freire is third with 94 points.
Di Luca finished the 201 kilometers in four hours, 44 minutes, 56 seconds to win by a second over Kirchen. Rebellin, last year's winner, finished third.
David Etxebarria finished fourth ahead of fellow Spaniards Freire and Angel Vicioso.
Di Luca said he was looking forward to the Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
"Liege is the race that I enjoy the most. I hope I will win it," said the Italian, who was second in the Fleche Wallonne last year.
Di Luca confessed that the Fleche-Wallonne had not been his primary objective as he had been more focused on Sunday's challenge.
"I had been thinking more of the Liege race but of course if the opportunity presented itself I would take the victory here as well.
"That is what I did. It was mostly a way to thank my team-mates who performed tirelessly to put me in a position where I could win."
Di Luca put down his change from bridesmaid to bride to his mental approach.
"In my head now I consider myself to be a great rider and physically I am in tip top condition. Also a crucial second factor is that the people around me and my team-mates have given me the calm atmosphere required to win the big races."
Rebellin sportingly applauded his compatriot.
"Bravo to Danilo," said Rebellin, who was unable to answer Di Luca's late charge. "He was the strongest today. I am not far off how I was physically last year but this year he has come out the winner. I am still hopeful I can repeat my success in the Liege race."
With 60 kilometers to go, Germany's Jens Voigt slipped away from a breakaway group and led by 1:30 going into the final 24 kilometers.
Braving rain and strong winds, Voigt remained ahead until four kilometers from the finish, just ahead of the Wall of Huy climb.
Di Luca snatched the lead with 200 meters to go and sprinted the Wall of Huy final climb for victory.
Boonen, who won both the Ronde of Flanders and Paris Roubaix earlier this month, skipped the race because the circuit's hills didn't suit his style. Italy's Alessandro Petacchi, the runner-up in the standings until Wednesday, also missed the event.