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"At the end Danny had a flat tire and I did not know where he was, so I decided to sprint for myself. Then with two kilometers to go he was in my wheel. It was a hard, fast course as a lot of guys were getting dropped so he used a lot...

Photo: Trek Factory Racing






05.03.2014 @ 21:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

All was set for a great result when Boy Van Poppel led out his brother and Trek teammate Danny at the end of today's Belgian one-day race Le Samyn. However, the younger brother had used up a lot of energy to chase back after a late puncture and faded back to finish outside the top 10.


The race was the usual spirited Belgian-style affair, but the weather was atypical for this time of year as sunny skies and dry roads greeted the riders for the 195.9-kilometer Le Samyn.  Although it resulted in the predicted mass bunch sprint, numerous breakaway attempts stretched the elastic to its breaking point and almost thwarted the sprinters bid for glory.


The race concluded with five laps of a 21.3-kilometer circuit, with one leg-searing cobbled climb of 500m (côte de Roquette) and a gradual, but arduous, uphill sprint finish to round out the difficulty. 


Omega Pharma-Quick Step went on the offensive as soon as the day’s two-rider breakaway had been caught at the start of the first circuit, attacking the tough cobbled climb halfway through the lap to create the first of many breakaway attempts. Each of the circuits was highly active and saw continuous moves off the front, but a dogged peloton kept clawing its way back each time.


At the start of the final lap five riders went clear, and Trek Factory Racing’s Kristof Vandewalle jumped in the mix.  The group swelled to 10 as more riders - sensing this could be a dangerous break - bridged, and with 15 kilometers remaining the breakaway hinted at being a legitimate threat to succeed to the finish.


However, with little cohesion amongst the 10 leaders as they began to attack each other, the peloton latched back on with little more than eight kilometers to go. As Belgian racing goes, it was not long before another group of five slipped away with the ever-attentive Vandewalle again part of the escapees.


The elastic was pulled hard once again and seemed vulnerable to snap as no teams assumed full-control, but somehow this move, too, was stymied and a strung-out peloton headed into the last few kilometers, full-speed.  One last ditch effort by Katusha’s Vladimir Isaichev had the appearance of a winning move, but the Russian lost steam on the uphill to the finish. Boy van Poppel led the charging peloton on the Kutusha rider’s heels, with brother Danny close behind, and pulled off with 300m to go in a textbook lead out.


However, Danny faded out of the top 10 in the final uphill meters, and it was Maxime Vantomme (Roubaix Lille Metropole) surprising the favorites, powering to the win ahead of Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) and Nacer Bouhanni (


It was a respectable effort from Danny, who punctured in the final circuit and had to use valuable energy to scramble his way back to Boy’s wheel.  The team missed a little luck at the end, but the gallant team effort during the race was a morale-booster as Boy van Poppel explained post-race.


“We raced really well as a team today, always together," he said. "On the cobblestones and the climbs we always had one or two guys in the front. At the end Danny had a flat tire and I did not know where he was, so I decided to sprint for myself.


"Then with two kilometers to go he was in my wheel. It was a hard, fast course as a lot of guys were getting dropped so he used a lot of energy to get back to the peloton. I pulled the sprint for him, and when I pulled off the front he was in fourth position, with 300 meters to go, but he did not have much left. We gave it a good try.


“It was a super good feeling in the team. We all did a good job; every move that went we had one or two guys in the front. Kristof [Vandewalle] was in the final moves on last lap…the feeling for me was really good.  Even if we did not have the result, it gives us a positive feeling heading into the next races.”



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