Valverde swallowed a bee during finale of Fleche Wallonne

Four-time Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was his usual optimistic self at Saturday’s race presentation, but the reigning world champion recognised he was uncertain of his current condition.

Valverde confirmed he had suffered an unusual setback during Flèche Wallonne, where the five times winner of the mid-week Ardennes Classic swallowed a bee, which then stung him, during the last part of the race.

The Spanish veteran emphasised the incident, at some 50 kilometres from the finish, was not an explanation for his below-expectations performance, where he finished eleventh. However, he said it had been a frightening experience – and in the final hour of a race, surely even more so.

“I thought it had come out but it stung me here,” Valverde told a small group of reporters, pointing to his neck. “So I was pretty scared, to be honest.

“I’ve swallowed insects before whilst riding, but I’ve managed to cough them up. They’ve never stayed inside before. Fortunately, I’m not allergic but it was frightening. I thought the string would turn into some kind of inflammation. For 20 minutes, I was really worried.

“I don’t like to make excuses, but it might have had an effect, or it might not.”

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