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Le Samyn 2017


The cobbled classics continue today with Le Samyn. There are five riders in the breakaway at the moment with just a minute on the peloton and it's coming down. 

The riders with the smallest of leads are Erwann Corbel, Kenneth Van Rooy, Gordon De Winter, Kevin Van Melsen and Joeri Stallaert. 

With around 100km to go, the leaders enter the four local laps with just 57 seconds between themselves and the peloton. 

The women's race finished not that long ago with Cylance's Sheyla Gutierrez winning ahead of Amy Pieters. We've got images from the race and brief results here

There are four cobbled sectors on each lap of 25km for the riders to tackle. Two of those sectors, Chemin de Wihéries and Rue de Belle Vue, have been given a three-star rating, the highest of the race. 

This is a picture of the very damp looking Rue de Belle Vue, courtesy of Belgian broadcasters Sporza. Should be a tricky traverse of these stones. 

As expected, the peloton has been split into pieces on the first local lap. Two main groups now chasing the leaders, who have just 20 seconds. 

89km remaining from 202km

If you missed the news earlier, Velon and Infront announced a series of three-day races known as the Hammer Series, which they say will challenge the traditional racing format

85km remaining from 202km

Van Melsen's effort out front has been brought to a close and with 80km to go the break is done and dusted. 

With Van Melsen back in the bunch, there are other riders trying to get away. Loïc Chétout of Cofidis is one of those. The pace is very fast at the moment and the peloton is in one long line. 

The riders are into the second of four local laps. The rain is coming down and the riders are very muddy. Dries Devenyns and Benoit Jarrier are now trying their hand at a break. 

The riders are into the second of four local laps. The rain is coming down and the riders are very muddy. Dries Devenyns and Benoit Jarrier are now trying their hand at a break. 

Lots of movement and breaks keep trying to go and are being brought back. There's now about 6 or 7 riders with a small gap off the front of the bunch. Small groups all over the road. 

It's eight riders up front now. They are Dries Devenyns, Frederik Frison, Amund Grondahl Jansen, Loic Chtout, Benoit Jarrier, Kevin Ista, Brosi Vallee and Alex Kirsch. 

It's eight riders up front now. They are Dries Devenyns, Frederik Frison, Amund Grondahl Jansen, Loic Chetout, Benoit Jarrier, Kevyn Ista, Boris Vallee and Alex Kirsch. 

Guillaume Boivin has had to drop back to the cars. His bike appeared to be missing a saddle. 

The group of eight has been brought back. The pace of the peloton means that there are plenty of riders struggling off the back. This is one tough day out. 

Yet another move going off the front. Five riders this time. They are, Jesper Asselman, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Huub Duijn and Maarten Wynants. 

Apologies, but I missed Roy Jans off that list. He is the fifth man in that group. 

Time gap for the five escapees gives them 17 seconds on the peloton. Quick-Step are at the head of the bunch. 

52km remaining from 202km

Breakaway working very well together but they're not making much more ground on the peloton. The gap is hovering around 20 seconds.

Jack Bauer is leading the chase for Quick-Step Floors. His efforts are paying dividends and the gap is coming back but not that quickly. 

Peloton has swept up most of the breakaway now. Just a few stragglers dangling off the front. 

Having been caught. Asselman went straight out the back of the group and is now back in the cars. 

More riders trying to attack. Three gone up the road now and they are Iljo Keisse, Jerome Cousin and Charlie Arimont.

The leaders have 20 seconds on the chasing pack at the moment with 43km.

The leading group has ballooned to around 12 riders. We'll bring you more names when we get them. 

A crash in the peloton has taken down a couple of riders. It looks like there may have been a touching of wheels and one of the riders is now waiting on the side of the road for a new bike but both seem ok. 

35km remaining from 202km

Van Keirsbulck has attacked the leading group, and is trying to go it alone. He's got a small gap on them. 

Van Keirsbulck has been joined by his former teammate Keisse. The gap between the two leading groups remains small but the injection of pace has increased the gap to the peloton to 36 seconds. 

The increase in gap has brought a small sense of panic in the peloton as they really start pushing. The peloton has drastically decreased to around 40 riders. This weather and speed is taking its toll. 

Up front, it's very strung out but the leading group is pretty much together. They have 33 seconds on the bunch. 

The full complexion of the leading group: Keisse, Van Keirsbulck, Wynants, Van der Sande, Delaplace, De Buyst, Gerard, Krisch and Pardini. 

Florian Senechal is trying to bridge the gap tot he leaders. He's not really getting very far but he keeps trying nonetheless. 

27km remaining from 202km

With Senechal unable to get across to the breakaway group, Cofidis has come together and is now making a more concerted effort on the front of what we might call the peloton, although there is little left of it now. 

Cofidis' efforts are really doing some damage and they have forced a split with about 10 riders moving clear. Quick-Step has large numbers in that Cofidis-led group. 

The breakaway keep looking over their shoulders and rightly so. Their advantage has fallen dramatically to just 18 seconds as they cross the line for the penultimate time. The bell is chiming.

The weather really is very... well, Belgian. The rain is still coming down and the riders look like the team showers are going to be very busy after the race. 

23km remaining from 202km

Kirsch has attacked and he is quickly followed by one of the Lotto Soudal riders. 

Van Keirsbulck goes over too as the peloton has the break in their sights now. 

20km remaining from 202km

Van der Sande was in the breakaway in last year's race and said this morning he was hoping for much of the same, although he hopes to get the win this time around. 

Van Keirsbulck is looking pretty strong today. He is riding for Wanty this season after a disappointing 2016 with Etixx-Quick-Step. A result here would be a big morale boost for the Belgian. 

17km remaining from 202km

Gerard drops off the back of the bunch. He's got a puncture. 

15km remaining from 202km

Free wheeling int he breakaway group. They've given up it seems. 

13km remaining from 202km

No, it looks like Van Keirsbulck isn't quite ready to give up on this. He moves to the front and gets into TT mode. Van der Sande and Kirsch are happy to sit in his wheel. 14 seconds now for the trio with just under 13km to go. 

These cobbles are really slippy and the riders are having to take a lot of car on the corners. With so few kilometres remaining, they can't afford any mistakes. 

Van der Sande has been dropped from the leading group. Just two riders remaining. 

Van Keirsbulck attacks on the cobbles with 11km to go. Kirsch is having to dig deep to keep up. 

Kirsch is back with Van Keirsbulck. The two only have 12 seconds as Senechal, Keisse and Wynants attack from the peloton. 

10km remaining from 202km

The time gap says 18 seconds for the two leaders but through the lights of the cars it looks like there are some riders catching them. 

Van Keirsbulck attacks again and Kirsch is having to sprint to stay with him. 

7km remaining from 202km

There are going to be some very fine margins here as Kirsch flicks his elbow to ask Van Keirsbulck to do a bit of work. They still have 20 seconds with 6km to go. 

4km remaining from 202km

The peloton is well and truly out of it at 50 seconds behind the leaders.

Wanty are in the driver's seat anyhow with a rider up front and in the second group. 

As I write, Van Keirsbulck attacks again. He gets a small gap but Kirsch is grinding away and gets back to him. Is Van Keirsbulck burning his matches too early or is he softening up Kirsch?

2km remaining from 202km

It's still 20 seconds with 2km to go. This is going to be close. Can anyone bridge over to the two leaders?

1km remaining from 202km

The rain is really coming down on the riders. It has been a torrid day out there as they enter the final kilometre

The chasing group is all over the place as they make some last-ditch attempts to jump across to the leaders. 

Wyanants attacks from the second group. 

Van Keirsbulck attacks from the escape group but still has Kirsch in his wheel. 

Lots of street furniture to manage as they hit the final stretch

Van Keirsbulck wins by a hair's breadth over Kirsch. 

A fine win by Van Keirsbulck and well deserved. He's looked strong all day, getting into several breaks and doing most of the work up front too. 

Kirsch started up the sprint and it looked like he might have it but Van Keirsbulck passed him with about 50m to go. 

Here is a brief look at how it finished there, with Keisse taking the final podium spot. 

That was a very hard day out there and Van Keirsbulck could hardly find the words in his post-race interview. Here's what he said - a warning for those of a sensitive disposition, there is some bad language:

The full top 10:

A picture of a muddy Van Keirsbulck talking at the finish, courtesy of ZikloLand.

You can find our report of today's action here, with full results and photos to come soon. 

That is it from us today. We'll have action from Strade Bianche at the weekend, so we'll see you then. 

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