Photo Credit: Laurens Vervust
In a fast paced race run under near perfect weather conditions, Maxime Vantomme (Roubaix – Lille Metropole) won the 46th edition of the Le Samyn. Vantomme was able to get the better of Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.Fr) in the exciting final sprint finish.
There was hardly a dull moment during the 198km race as a main break of the day could hardly establish itself before it was brought back again. Nico Sijmens (WGG), Glenn Van de Maele (PCW) and Romain Hubert (CCB) were the early leaders but after a crash in the peloton with around 76km to go, Omega Pharma QuickStep put the pressure on. This resulted in a 9 rider split going off the front that would bridge to the 3 lead riders to make it 12 riders at the head of the race, including 6 riders from QuickStep.
This move sent alarm bells through the peloton and Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, Lotto Belisol and FDJ.Fr all assisted with the chase to bring back the QuickStep dominated break. With 58km to go the dangerous move was reeled in allowing for a number of teams to put in attacks of their own.
Eventually Alexis Gougeard (AGR) and Thomas De Gendt (OPQ) were able to get clear of the peloton and held on to a 45” lead until they too were brought back with 22km to go. With the race all back together the attacks started once again with 10 riders now surging ahead of the peloton. A lack of cooperation amongst the leading 10 saw them caught with 2km to go, finally allowing the peloton to set up the sprint.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung looked well positioned at 700m to go with Gerald Ciolek on 4th wheel, but in the closing kilometers the German got slightly swamped and stopped sprinting with 100m to go. “I didn’t time my sprint too well today. I went a little bit too late and ended up getting boxed in, i couldn’t go anywhere. That is sprinting though and i will be better next time,” said Ciolek. Ciolek crossed the line in 8th position while a late surge up the outside saw Kristian Sbaragli from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung claim 5th place, just as he did at this race last year.
The core of the Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung classics riders will now look to the 3 days of West Flanders as the next race on in its program. A race where Ciolek was able to win a stage last year.