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"The weather conditions made the race beautiful in a strange way. I am happy with this victory, as it gives me confidence and comes as a confirmation that my condition is good for the upcoming Classics."

Photo: Etixx - Quick-Step / Tim de Waele

BORA-HANSGROHE

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CIRCUS-WANTY GOBERT

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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DYLAN GROENEWEGEN

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MAARTEN WYNANTS

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MARCO MARCATO

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NIKI TERPSTRA

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ONE PRO CYCLING

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PHILIPPE GILBERT

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ROOMPOT-CHARLES

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SEAN DE BIE

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SVEN ERIK BYSTRØM

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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02.03.2016 @ 22:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Niki Terpstra made up for the poor Etixx-QuickStep performance in the opening weekend by claiming an impressive solo win in the Walloon season opener, Le Samyn. On an epic day with wind and rain, the Dutchman emerged as the strongest in an elimination race from a 13-rider group and reached the finish with a 19-second advantage over Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) while Florian Senechal (Cofidis) won a three-rider sprint for third.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Niki Terpstra: This is confirmation that I am ready for the classics

At the end of this day, the one to come out on top was Niki Terpstra, who was not only the strongest, but also the one who knew how to dose his effort and when to make the right move. The Dutchman forced a selection twice in the last 20 kilometers of the race, and no one could match his fierce accelerations. Then, as soon as he got a gap over Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) as a result of his monster attack, Terpstra rode in auto pilot mode and put 15 seconds between him and the Brit before the final pavé.

 

Soloing to the win, his first since last July's general classification at the Tour de Wallonie, Terpstra unzipped his rain jacket and showed the beautiful Dutch champion jersey which he took last year, in Emmen. In Dour, where the 48th edition of Le Samyn came to an end, the 31-year-old Terpstra scored the 16th victory of Etixx – Quick-Step since the start of the season.

 

"It was a really tough race, as we rode full gas from the beginning. The last 10 kilometers were the hardest of the entire race. I knew I had about 15 seconds on Thwaites and I had to continue pulling. To make things even more difficult, the last 3 kilometers had a headwind and an uphill part. The weather conditions made the race beautiful in a strange way. I am happy with this victory, as it gives me confidence and comes as a confirmation that my condition is good for the upcoming Classics", said Niki Terpstra after becoming the first Dutch rider in 13 years to win Le Samyn.

 

"The circumstances were not pleasant. It was a hard race from the start. But that made the race an elimination race. There were not many who finished the race. The chasers also kept me on my toes and so I had to go full gas until the final 100 meters. I did not have time to recover because the first pursuer Thwaites remained constantly at fifteen seconds. My win was never guaranteed.”

 

Impressive Scott Thwaites: I had to play a bit of poker

Today in Le Samyn Scott Thwaites and Ralf Matzka were again the cards to play for BORA – ARGON 18. Both riders managed to be part of the decisive 26-rider group. 5 laps of a demanding 25 kilometres loop including 16 cobblestone sections led to a pure elimination race in the final. Also the wind and rain pushed the riders to their limits and the Classics of the north showed once again why some love and others hate them.

 

With about 40k to go the group split into two with only Scott Thwaites being able to follow the race favourites. Due to several attacks, one by one of the leading riders was dropped. With 15 kilometres to go Niki Terpstra and Scott Thwaites went clear. Terpstra then also dropped Thwaites who managed to hold a solid gap over the chasing group. It was a hard fight and impressive ride by the young British talent. In the end he crossed the line 0:19 behind Terpstra in second place of Le Samyn. It was a great performance and perfect end to this first phase of the Belgian Classics for Scott Thwaites and BORA – ARGON 18.

 

“The team was really strong today,” Thwaites said. “Shortly before the circuit Pösti (L. Pöstlberger), Schilli (A. Schillinger), Ralf and me made an important group of 20 riders. With the weather turning bad on the circuit, the situation changed again and the race turned into a war with riders being dropped on every cobble section and climb.

 

“I had to play a bit of poker so that I didn’t show my strength too early but also not miss an important attack. When Terpstra attacked we made a good gap, but when he attacked again I could not follow. I rode the last 12k on my own, 15sec behind Terpstra and 15sec in front of the chasing group. It was hard but I had the power to hold on for 2nd.

 

“I am really happy because I was the 2nd strongest today and I finished 2nd to a top quality Classics rider, so I have no regrets with my performance.”

 

 

“It was a real fight today,” sports director André Schulze said. “It was typical “Classics weather”, 3 degrees, rain, strong winds. Also the course was harder than the last years, therefore it was clear from the beginning that Scott would be our captain today. After his performances the last weekend, everyone in the team knew that he can challenge the best here, that motivates the whole team.

 

”We were been in control from the beginning and all the time. In the first big group of 20 riders we had 4 guys. Then everything changed again and a group of 26 riders went clear, including Scott and Ralf. Ralf was a big help again for Scott, he did a great job today, like the whole team.

 

“I was really impressed when Scott and Terpstra broke the leading group into pieces. I also still had doubts that it might have been too early for him. But he kept his gap over the chasing group with a really strong performance. It is just a question of time until he will win a race when rides like today.” 

 

“I really feel better from day to day now,” Matzka said. “Sunday was a first good sign and solid performance that also made me feel more confident. Today I was in the decisive group with Scott and again I think it was important that I could support him in the finale. He is really strong at the moment, and I could not follow when the group was split. But I think I proved that my basis is pretty solid, I just lack a little bit of high intensities due to my health problems 2 weeks ago. But I have another training block now and I will work on this.”

 

Loic Vliegen confirms his huge potential with fourth place in Le Samyn

It was a tough day in the saddle at the one-day Le Samyn today with the peloton facing treacherous conditions throughout the 202.6km Belgian race.

 

Loïc Vliegen battled the cold weather, cross winds and cobbles, putting in a stellar effort to finish in fourth place behind solo winner Niki Terpstra (Eitixx Quick-Step). Scott Thwaites (Bora Argon) and Florian Sénéchal (Cofidis) rounded out the podium.

 

Strong cross winds immediately caused splits and slowly whittled down the peloton with the majority of riders abandoning due to the harsh conditions.

 

Vliegen found himself at the front of the race and eventually formed part of a 15 rider breakaway before launching a solo attack with 40km to go. He was reeled back into the leading group, making way for attacks on the final 25km loop, including Terpstra’s successful solo attack with 15km to go.

 

“I’m happy with fourth place. I was feeling really good and I knew it so I wanted to take my chance today. It was a really hard race with no control so it was like a junior race with attack after attack,” Vliegen said after the race.

 

“I had the legs today but in a race like this one it is difficult to not expend so much energy because you never know when a break can go. With the cold and these kind of conditions it’s a special kind of racing, you have to always be attentive.”

 

Gilbert after withdrawal at Le Samyn: It hurt and I didn’t want to take risks

Philippe Gilbert abandoned the race.

 

"Yesterday and this morning I had much pain from my crash in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but I could still do a nice day on the bike,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “It was the plan to do some kilometres. I did 180. That's important in view of Paris-Nice. On flat roads it was no problem, but the cobbles gave me too much pain. I could not be at my best level. I just could not pull on my handlebars and was not fast enough. The cobblestones were really bad. It was dangerous, especially when it started to rain. I didn’t want to take any risks for the rest of the season.”

 

Excellent neo-pro Nils Politt close to victory at Le Samyn

Only the toughest riders were destined to survive in the 48th Le Samyn on the roads of Belgium on Wednesday and Team KATUSHA had two such riders in Nils Politt and Sven Erik Bystrøm. Taking turns attacking in the last 55 km of the 202,6 km effort, both riders showed spunk and determination in the difficult conditions of rain, wind and cobbles, finally finishing in Dour fifth and 7th respectively on the day.

 

”After 100 km of racing I felt bad, but then I ate and drank something and I felt better. When I saw that there were just 30 km left I thought why not attack? And I did. I hoped that Niki Terpstra - as he was alone - and two others would follow, but no one did so I went on alone for a solo try. The others came back and of course when Terpstra and Thwaites went away I did not have the legs anymore at that moment.  But later with 5 km to go, I felt better and I tried again with two others. In the sprint for the third place however my legs exploded,” said young rider Nils Politt. 

 

“The young riders could take their chances today and they did. I am so happy to see that they really were motivated to show something. Not more than 30 riders finished this race! You can imagine how hard it was. Bystrøm and Politt were already in the front after 50km of racing and they always stayed in the front, even when the composition of the front groups changed. They were already so loyal to the team last weekend in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne and now again today. These guys will be ready for the classics. Politt was so strong in the final, and he is only 21 years old.  Maybe he attacked too early, but this is nice. I prefer to see him dying like this. It will make these young guys stronger for the future. They are so hungry for a victory. It was understandable that they showed their power a bit too early,” said team director Gennady Mikhaylov.

 

Politt put in a huge effort with 34 km to go on the third of four local laps, seeing the front in the wind and holding a decent solo gap of 15 seconds as the kilometers ticked over. But 2014 Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra had ideas of his own and struck out solo on the final lap and took the win at 19-seconds ahead of Scott Thwaites of Bora-Argon 18 and 37-seconds ahead of Florian Sénéchal (Cofidis). Politt was fifth on the same time with Bystrøm in seventh at 44-seconds. The winning time was 4:52.48 for the Dutch champion.

 

”I like the cold but also the cobbles and the ups and downs and crosswinds. This was a typical Belgian classic race. I can go on now in Belgium. On Friday I start in the Three Days of West-Vlaanderen and later in Waregem, Gent-Wevelgem and Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde,” Politt concluded.

 

Le Samyn was the first of 10 races that will see riders compete in the Belgian Cycling Cup. In addition it was the first Walloon race of the season and in a region known for hard weather, the conditions today were grim indeed for the peloton. In addition to wind and rain, there were standing puddles as well as muddy and slick cobbled sections, requiring nimble bike handling skills and a close eye to road conditions. Team KATUSHA riders put together a good effort, and this bodes well for the upcoming races.  

 

Dylan Groenewegen: This was a good performance by a sprinter like me

Dylan Groenewegen and Maarten Wynants fought until the last kilometres of a difficult edition of Le Samyn today. The Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders made the leading 13-man group, but could not hold back eventual winner Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step). Groenewegen took sixth place and Wynants ninth.

 

They covered 16 cobblestone sections over the 200 kilometres of Le Samyn, but the wind and the rain proved to be their biggest rival. Those circumstances made the Belgian one-day race a real knock-out fight.

 

“I really enjoyed this race,” sports director Merijn Zeeman. “It was a difficult one for the riders, but a real advertisement for the sport. When we came to the finishing laps, only 40 riders were still competing. It became a knock-out fight. That makes it impossible to make a race plan. 

 

“A group of 13 riders escaped, but they didn’t really break away. They just distanced the others. Maarten put in everything he had to give Dylan the chance to sprint for the victory, but even in the final, it was all about positioning in the wind. The best riders escaped on the cobblestones and that was it.”

 

Zeeman said that Groenewegen must be proud of the performance he delivered in Le Samyn.

 

“A sixth place doesn’t mean much to me, but that I was able to show off in a race like this is a good thing as a sprinter,” Groenewegen added. “It was a beautiful race. It was heavy and painful. Everyone ends up in the place he deserves, and Terpstra was the best today. I have to be satisfied, we fought for it, tried to react to every attack and that was everything we could do.”

 

Daniel McLay shows classics skills with great ride in epic Le Samyn

Daniel McLay proved that he has potential for the classics as he narrowly missed out on the top 10.

 

“Good legs today till the final 20-30km's today then cold/hunger flat hit (hands too cold to enter pockets!) Rest up now for @ParisNice,” he tweeted.

 

”Also, fair play to @Scott_Thwaites1 massively strong and hardest man in the race, rocking shorts, jersey + arms and not even looking cold!

 

"I suffered today- I was so cold that I couldn't catch my bars.”

 

Lotto Soudal riders explode in tough edition of Le Samyn

Lotto Soudal had Sean De Bie and Tosh van der Sande in the group that decided the race but they both exploded.

 

”Sometimes suffering can be SO much fun!! Wet cobbles, crosswinds, hail, cold and wind made it an epic race and i LOVED it!! #gplesamyn,” De Bie tweeted after the race

 

“Aaaahpffff! Was really strong today untill i had cold legs with no power ! #gpsamyn,” van der Sande tweeted.

 

Marco Marcato: It was so cold that I couldn’t eat anything

The cycling season in Wallonia has its traditional season opener as well in GP Le Samyn. While the Flemish opening weekend was cold but most of all sunny, the peloton racing in and around Dour wad 'treated' to wind, rain and cold circumstances. Out of the 188 riders who took the start in Quaregnon, only 28 managed to finish the race: Marco Marcato and Dimitri Claeys. 

 

"It was full gas all day," the Italian said. "From the start, when it was still sunny, we raced very hard." 

 

Marcato was part of the decisive move with the eventual winner of the race: Dutchman Niki Tersptra. In the penultimate of four local laps, Marcato unfortunately could not follow the best riders anymore. 

 

"I was so terribly cold all day that I didn't feel my hands anymore. I couldn't even get the food out of my shirt pockets. The rain, wind and cold were really hard for me. It wasn't my best day on the bike but I fought really hard all race." 

 

Dimitri Claeys had recovered well from his 12th place in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and was determined to show himself in Henegouwen, home to the team and its main sponsors.

 

"This is the opening race in Wallonia and therefore very important for a team like Wanty-Groupe Gobert with a strong basis in this part of Belgium. I felt good but wasn't there at the decisive moments. When the peloton split in the crosswinds I was just too far back," Claeys said disappointed.  

 

Wanty-Groupe Gobert's next race is the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen which starts in Middelkerke on Friday.

 

Difficult day for ONE in Le Samyn

The plan of action for ONE was to ride for Danish rider Martin Mortensen with Yanto Barker acting as road captain to help organise and position the team.

 

The race was active from the beginning with constant rotation of groups and numerous attacks attempting to go early. 10km in and Joshua Hunt was caught in a bad crash caused by a combination of strong crosswinds and the bunch being unsettled in the early stages of the race. Grazed but not badly hurt, Hunt was able to remount and continue with the race.

 

 

Due to a combination of bad weather and an active peloton, the bunch split in half with 60 guys ending up in the front split including Yanto Barker, Martin Mortensen, Kristian House, Pete Williams and Joshua Hunt. Unfortunately for Joshua Hunt, he was taken out once again by another rider slapping off in the wet weather. At this stage, Hunt was forced to retire from the race.

 

15 riders including Yanto Barker split from the front bunch of 60 creating the first major break of the day. This group remained uncaught until Lotto Jumbo rode it down and brought it all back together as they entered the finishing circuit at 102km. Hitting the cobbles and a nasty drag the front bunch of 60 once again split, this time into three groups. Yanto Barker in the third group ended up as the highest positioned rider for the team as this stage in the race with the good company of Phillipe Gilbert and BMC

 

 

Pete Williams put in a massive effort to bring Martin Mortensen back into the front group. During this time, the race it took a turn for the worse with heavy rain and temperatures plummeting. With the race officials pulling many riders out of the race Martin Mortensen managed to drag himself back up to the group containing Yanto Barker and they continued to ride searching for a top 25 position. They settled in a large group with many of these riders deciding to head back to their respective buses. Mortensen and Barkercontinued on to finish 23rd & 25th respectively.

 

It was a very tough day in the saddle for all concerned, no real injuries from the team to speak of and they re-group and head into the Three Days of West Flanders at the weekend.

 

A day to forget for FDJ in Le Samyn
There are days in a season where nothing goes according to plan and FDJ had such a day in Le Samyn. The team had a series of punctures in the tough conditions.

 

"There was a first loop of 100 kilometers before four laps of 25 kilometers," explains sports director Franck Pineau. "After the first selection in the crosswind, I had 5 riders in the first peloton but Olivier Le Gac, Cédric Pineau and Daniel Hoelgaard were victims of punctures. I was 25th in the line of sports directors. When I got up to my riders, they were already back in the second group. They never saw the front. Then Yoann Offredo punctured  and as Marc Sarreau did not start because he is not very well, I only had two riders in the first group, Pierre-Henri The Cook and Johan Le Bon. That was not a good day. "

 

Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier was the only rider to reach the finish.

 

No Roompot riders survive epic edition of Le Samyn

Roompot - Orange Peloton played no significant role.  None of the six members of the team made it to the finish in Dour.

 

Huub Duyn was the one that made it the longest. After a long chase of a first group of twenty riders, Duijn stopped at the penultimate passage of the finish line.

 

"In the finale, we were just 25 seconds behind of the first group, but then we were hit by the cold and the speed dropped," he said. "Because of the rain and hail many riders were really cold. That is reflected in the result with only 28 finishers. "

 

 

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