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Le Samyn - Live Report

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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of Le Samyn.

As we  join the action, the race has just got underway.

Florian Sénéchal won the 2019 Le Samyn and is riding again today as part of the ever-powerful Deceuninck-QuickStep team. 

A total of 25 teams are at the start, including Trek-Segafredo. Jasper Stuyven leads the team after his win at Saturday' Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

More updates to come...

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As the race profile shows the riders face a flat ride north and then the return for the circuits of Dour. 

The race is is in the southwest of Belgium, in the French-speaking part of the country. 

The 199km includes four laps of the 27km finishing circuit, each one includes four sections of cobbles and two climbs.

The Deceuninck-QuickStep will again be expected to control the racing. 

There is also the women Le Samyn today. We'll also keep you up to date with the action.  

After starting in Quaregnon, the women have ridden to Dour and will cover 3 laps of the circuit.

in 2019 Florian Sénéchal won the Le Samyn race with a well-executed sprint finish after a tactical and aggressive race.

Sénéchal was part of the decisive 10-rider attack that formed on the last lap and then won the sprint after teammate Tim Declercq was pulled back in sight of the line.

Lars Boom (Roompot-Charles) stated the sprint early but Sénéchal was able to match his speed and come past him before the finish line.

Aimé De Gendt (Wanty-Groupe-Gobert) finished second, with Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie) third after trying to split the group in the final kilometres.

An early break has formed with 6 riders in the move.They  have 5:15 on the bunch.

-140km

This is Florian Sénéchal at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. 

Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Florian Sénéchal at the 2020 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Senechel is French but from very close to the race area, hailing from Cambrai. This is why he and his partner we're very emotional after he won in 2019.

There are 24km left to race in the women's race. Chantal Van den Broek - Blaak is out front alone, with a select group chasing here.  The peloton is further back.

Van den Broek - Blaak leads the 5 chasers by 1:15.

Van den Broek - Blaak is time trialing away from the chasers. 

Van den Broek - Blaak has two teammates in the five-rider group and they are slowing the chase.

They are doing turns to also help stay away from the peloton.

The roads and sections of cobbles are dry for now but the skies are grey. 

-12

Blaak seems on her way to victory. 

Her leads is up to 2:20 as they hit a cobbled climb.

The cobbled section is wet because it is shade and so the chasers and the peloton is splitting up.

Blaak is riding into a headwind but looks strong.

-10KM

The women are back on the concrete roads as the peloton catches the five chasers. 

In the men's race, with 100km to go, the gap is down to 3:00. 

Blaak is tucked low over her bike, trying to hold her 2:00 lead.

The 5 chasers are still away but they seem to riding for 2nd place. Blaak is too far ahead.

Blaak enters the final sector of cobbles. She looks uncatchable.

Blaak is 2km from the finish.

The 5 chasers are close to 2:00 behind Blaak. 

Ellen van Dijk is up against two Boels riders and so decides to go on the attack.

Now Christine Majerus of Boels attacks!

It's a real fight for the podium spots behind Blaak.

Blaak is in the finishing straight.

She eases up and celebrates a fine solo victory.

Christine Majerus wins the sprint for 2nd place.

Boels Dolmans have dominated today with Blaak attacking more than 50km out.  

Lotte Kopecky of Lotto Soudal finished third.

This is Blaak's third win in the women's La Samyn. 

This is the top ten for the race. 

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 2:33:23
2Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team
3Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies
4Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Trek-Segafredo Women
5Jip van den Bos (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team
6Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar Team
7Lonneke Uneken (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team
8Emily Nelson (GBr) Isorex No-Aqua Ladies Cycling Team
9Claire Faber (Lux) Illi Bikes CT
10Alba Terual (Spa) Movistar Team

Chantal Blaak was happy to win.  

"This is definitely a race that suits me, yes. It was like a time trial today, it was pretty long. We wanted to play the game as a team, and to have as many numbers as possible in the front, and then try to attack," she explained.

"I was gone, alone and I thought that I had to try and continue. If they came from behind I would still have my teammates but they didn’t come. We just wanted to race and it didn’t matter for us who was winning."

"I race next weekend at Strade and then the weekend after at Drenthe. I have one win now so there’s less pressure and I’d like to enjoy this."

The men have now hit the 27km finishing circuit. They will soon get a taste of the cobbles on each lap.  

The early break is still away but the peloton is working to close the gap. There are six riders in the move.

Deceuninck are, as expected, obliged to lead the chase. 

Crash!

A Deceuninck rider went down, it seems to be Bert Van Lerberghe. He is holding his left elbow. His race is over. 

The peloton hits the cobbled section that leads towards the finish in Dour.

A front group is about to catch the attackers. Each section of cobbles sparks a selection.

-80KM

Deceuninck has several riders up front and so is forcing the pace.

-78km

Deceuninck-QuickStep are prominent in this front group of around 30 riders, with  Florian Sénéchal, Tim Declercq and Alvaro Hodeg all present. 

-75km

Deceuninck-QuickStep lead this front group over a stretch of cobbles with a lead 16 seconds over the chasing peloton. Drops of rain are beginning to fall over the race.

Five Deceuninck-QuickStep riders in this front group: Florian Sénéchal, Davide Ballerini, Alvaro Hodeg, Jannik Steimle and Tim Declercq.

Wallone-Bruxelles are leading the pursuit in the second portion of the peloton. They initially looked to be closing the gap but it stretches out again as Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) accelerates at the front of the race.

-71km

The peloton is on the cusp of reforming, but the repeated accelerations at the head of the race means that it could all split up all over again. 

-69km

The peloton reforms but the intensity remains high as riders scramble for position at the front ahead of the next cobbled section.

-68km

Belgian champion Tim Merlier accelerates viciously on the cobbles at Chemin de Wihéries and he has strung the peloton out into a long line behind him.

Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ) follows Merlier's acceleration with a dig of his own that briefly carries him clear of the bunch. A hugely impressive cameo from the Briton. Deceuninck-QuickStep take the reins back again after the race clatters off the cobbles.

-64km

The peloton is splitting up once again, with riders scrambling to close the gaps being provoked by Trek-Segafredo and Deceuninck-QuickStep's forcing at the front.

Deceuninck-QuickStep force the pace on the cobbles of the Côte des Nonettes and there are only  50 or so riders in the front end of the peloton, with another, smaller group battling to get back on terms.

-60km

Tim Declercq drives the pace at the head of the race. Each cobbled section is seeing riders shaken loose from the rear of the peloton, and this is still only the second of four laps of the 27km finishing circuit.

-58km

There are 30 or so riders in the front group ahead of the next passage over the cobbles at the Rue de Belle Vue.

A rear wheel puncture for Niki Terpstra (Total-Direct Energie), who elects to continue riding on that flat tyre through the cobbled section rather than waiting for a team car. He takes a wheel change from a team helper at the exit from this cobbled section, but the Dutchman might well struggle to get back on terms. He has lost a lot of ground.

-55km

Jenthe Biermans (Israel Start-Up Nation) attacks alone from the front group and opens a small gap.

-53km

Biermans is brought back. Alexys Brunel (Groupama-FDJ) leads the front group of 30 or so riders through the finish line. Two laps to go.

-50km

Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo) pushes on the pace at the front. Steimle and Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel Start-Up Nation) are among those who follow. They briefly open a gap before being brought back, but that acceleration will have stung a lot of legs.

The front group is splitting.

-35KM

There are only 20 or so riders left up front. 

There are 6km to go until the lead group go through the finish for the last time. 

The front group has split but everything is coming back together. The race is wide open. 

NTT are driving the group because Nizzolo is there.

They hit the cobbles yet again.

Strangely Deceuninck seems to be riding on the defensive.

After an attack by Florian Sénéchal, now Tim Declerq tries his hand. But he is pulled back. 

-22km

Declerq tries to put the others in the gutter.

There are 30 riders in the group but they are lined out. 

This is real Belgian racing.

The pace has eased, so other riders have got back on.

The riders are on exposed concrete roads but it is the cobbled sectors that spark the selection.

Boom! Attacks! 

Before a right turn on to the cobbles, several riders have gone away. 

It's the Cote de la Roquette and climbs on the cobbles.

Declerq is there, Nizzolo too. 

Hodeg is distanced, do sprint option for Deceuninck today.

-14km

More cobbles! This is a key moment.

Florian Sénéchal is in the chase group behind the four attackers.  

Alex Kirsch lead the surge ands goes again after the a regrouping.

Stuyven is the group but riding more cautiously so far.

There are only 12 or so riders in the front group now.

Coquard is also there for B&B Hotels.

The 12 form an echelon and have opened an important lead.

-10km

Attack Hermans.

Nizzolo hits the front to take the best and a fast line. 

It's time for more cobbles on the Cote de Nonettes. This will hurt.

Stuyvens is in the chase group and so Trek only have Kirsch up front in the 12-rider attack. 

These are the riders up front:  Senechal, DeClercq, Tamineaux, A. De Gendt, Venturini, Nizzolo, Hofstetter, Kirsch, Vermeersch, Van Gestel and Coquard.

-5km

The Uno-X Norwegian Development Team is trying to lead the chase but they are running out of road.

David Dekker of SEG racing is also there. 

The final cobbled sector and then the twisting streets in Dour will be decisive. 

They hit the cobbles!

Senechel leads and ups the pace.

Coquard has been spat out the back. 

Senechal has dragged 3 riders clear.

Nizzolo and Kirsch are there.

-2km

The fourth rider is A De Gendt of Circus Wanty.

The four lead by less than 100m. 

Last Kilometre!

Kirsch attacks. 

Senechal is chasing him, the others are there too. 

Here we go! Sprint.

Hofstetter wins!

Hofstetter gives Israel Start-Up Nation their third win of 2020. 

He won it well, hitting out early to celebrate with his arms in the air.

Nizzolo was the favourite for the sprint finish but perhaps used too much energy in the final attacks. Hofstetter came back on from behind and didn't go in or chase any attacks. 

Aime De Gendt is confirmed as second, with David Dekker third ahead of Clement Venturini. 

Brief results
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
2Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
3David Dekkerr (Ned) SEG Racing Academy
4Clément Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
6Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
7Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
8Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
9Tim Declerq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
10Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Énergie

That was a great final hour of racing, with the cobbles and windswept roads of southern Belgium again sparking aggressive and entertaining racing.

The riders avoided the rain but the cobbles were a little wet and greasy.

There is the  Trofej Umag in Slovenian on Wednesday but the next major races are Strade Bianche on Saturday and then Paris-Nice that begins on Sunday. 

Despite concerns about the coronavirus, both races have been confirmed.

Here's the moment Hugo Hofstetter (Israel Start-Up Nation) won Le Samyn.  

DOUR BELGIUM MARCH 03 Arrival Hugo Hofstetter of France and Team Israel StartUp Nation Celebration Aim De Gendt of Belgium and Team Circus Wanty Gobert during the 52nd Grand Prix Le Samyn 2020 a 2019km race from Quaregnon to Dour GPSamyn gpsamyn on March 03 2020 in Dour Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is the final kilometre and the Flemish commentary makes it sound even more thrilling.

Winning is always emotional.

We can understand Hofstetter's emotions. This is just his second victory of his seven-year career. 

To read our full race report and see the results and growing photo gallery of all the action, click here.

DOUR BELGIUM MARCH 03 Davide Ballerini of Italy and Team Deceuninck Quick Step Cobblestones Peloton during the 52nd Grand Prix Le Samyn 2020 a 2019km race from Quaregnon to Dour GPSamyn gpsamyn on March 03 2020 in Dour Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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