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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 2, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. - Henry David Thoreau

Dirty Feet: Early days of the Tour de France

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Le Samyn team reports

We posted the report from winner Matteo Trentin's UAE Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

Two days from the team’s ninth victory in two decades at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl lined out at the start of the 209km Le Samyn, which took the bunch on the now traditional course that made for some aggressive racing from early on. After the initial breakaway was overhauled more than 50 kilometers from the finish, those keen on avoiding a bunch sprint used every hill and every stretch of cobbles to split the field and ride away.

Jannik Steimle was one of first Wolfpack riders to shut down the attacks that came on the penultimate lap of the local circuit, before Josef Cerny and Bert Van Lerberghe booked a place in a group that immediately built a small gap which in only a couple of kilometers spiked to 40 seconds. After Josef dropped out from that move, it remained for Bert to carry the lag for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and the Belgian sprinted to eighth place for what was his first top 10 of the season.

Matteo Trentin wins the sprint. Sirotti photo

“The race was hard and we tried to cover all the moves and be in all the important groups that got away in the last part of the route, but it was impossible to control everything. There were a lot of attacks today, as many riders were willing to open up the race early, and this impacted on how the race unfolded, spoiling the plans for a mass gallop. At the end of the day, we did our best and can take confidence into the next races from how the team rode today”, said sports director Rik Van Slycke.

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Fifth-place Loïc Vliegen's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team posted this report:

The most Flemish of the Walloon classics, the GP Samyn (1.1, 01/03), lead the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in the province of Hainaut on Tuesday, where a 204-kilometre course through the Borinage ended in four laps of the local circuit, each featuring the cobbled sections of the Côte de la Roquette, the Chemin de Wihéries, the Côte des Nonettes and finally that of the rue de Belle Vue.

Strong in numbers at the entrance of the local circuits, the Belgian World Team had first made it possible to bring back the morning breakaway of six riders around 50 kilometers from the finish. Then, through Loïc Vliegen, Aimé De Gendt and Baptiste Planckaert, responded to the accelerations of the counter-attackers and eventually accompanied a group of 20 riders who set off on the penultimate passage of the Côte de la Roquette.

Loïc Vliegen, armed with determination, followed the multiple accelerations which ended up reducing the leading group to eight riders in the last 15 kilometers. Holding the peloton at bay until the end despite a 30-second lead, the front group sprinted to victory in Dour, and Vliegen secured fifth place. Andrea Pasqualon, who came third in the peloton, finished in eleventh place.

Loïc Vliegen winning stage four of the 2019 Wallonie Tour.

“We were prepared for an open race so I raced attentively in the front on the local laps. We knew that we had to pay attention to attacks of teams without sprinter and it is with this strategy that I managed to be in the lead of the race. With one lap to go we were only eight men left in the front and I was hoping to finish on the podium, even though several fast riders were present in the group. It was maybe possible to achieve this result if I would have launched my sprint earlier and didn’t give Trentin a chance to close the door. What I remember from this day is that I sprinted for the victory again after a very long time.” - Loïc Vliegen

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Here's the report from Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma has not been able to compete for the victory in Le Samyn. In the 209 km long stage to Dour, they raced attentively for a long time but missed the decisive shift.

Michel Hessmann crashed on a cobbled section in the final and broke his left collarbone.

Immediately after the start, six riders formed the leading group of the day. The peloton increased the pace towards the local loop and the gap quickly closed due to the riders' efforts. After the peloton had caught the breakaway riders, a wave of attacks followed. Hessmann reacted attentively to the attempts and attacked as well, but he had to pass when an elite group broke away at 40 kilometres from the finish. Loe van Belle and Rick Pluimers then gave everything to catch the front group, but to no avail.

“It was a hectic day”, sports director Marc Reef said. “We had quite a few setbacks, including crashes, punctures and bike changes. In the final we already had three guys riding between the cars. The rest were not in a position to go with the front group. We did try to get the chase going so we could make the jump and reach the riders in front, but we couldn’t really make a difference.”

“The youngsters showed themselves well”, said Reef. “Michel took the lead in the pre-final and Loe and Rick tried to close the gap. Lars Boven and Owen Geleijn were struck by bad luck. You can’t always prevent that. The men did well in this hectic and challenging race. They can build on this.”

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Here's the Le Samyn report from Team Lotto Soudal:

After finishing 5th at Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Victor Campenaerts again showed his good shape at Le Samyn, the season’s opener of the Walloon races. The Lotto Soudal rider was part of an eight-man move which narrowly hold off the peloton. Despite endless attacks, the eight riders sticked together and fought for victory in a sprint won by Italian Matteo Trentin. Victor Campenaerts had to settle for sixth place.

“A sixth place at Le Samyn is obviously not what we came for”, said Victor Campenaerts. “But Le Samyn never disappoints. I think we rode an attractive race with the team and we made it pleasant to watch for the fans. In the end, it became a long final, but being part of the breakaway that made it to the finish, I gave my all to obtain the highest possible result. I was suffering a bit from pain in the ribs after crashing at the Omloop, but I think it’s safe to say Matteo Trentin was the strongest rider today.”

Victor Campenaerts at the 2021 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Sirotti photo

A few days after the Opening Weekend, Le Samyn was traditionally the season’s opener of races on Walloon roads. With over 200 kilometres of racing between Quaregnon and Dour, full of hills and cobbles, the riders were immediately faced with a tough day out.

Lotto Soudal sent a strong selection to Le Samyn and tried to play it out. When the bunch entered the local laps in Dour, Lotto Soudal got involved in the attacks, which eventually resulted in a large front group forming at about 40 kilometres from the finish, including four Lotto Soudal riders. Going into the final, the breakaway was further reduced to eight riders, where Victor Campenaerts defended the Lotto Soudal colours. In the closing kilometres attacks were flying as the leading group played with fire due to the fast approaching peloton behind. But in the end, the eight riders sprinted for victory, with Italian Trentin coming out on top. Campenaerts came in sixth while Arnaud De Lie finished second in the bunch sprint and completed the top ten.

“I’m really happy to start the races in Wallonia like this”, says Arnaud De Lie. “We delivered another solid team performance today and personally, I almost won the bunch sprint. An icon like Philippe Gilbert doing the lead-out for me gave me goosebumps. A little earlier in the race, I was part of a sizeable front group which formed on one of the cobbled sections. With four Lotto Soudal riders, it was a good situation but unfortunately there wasn’t the best understanding within the group so it split again. I then focused on the peloton sprint at the end to obtain a nice result, which succeeded.”

And Team Bora-hansgrohe posted this:

GP Le Samyn in the Walloon part of Belgium was the next stage of the BORA - hansgrohe classics campaign. 209 kilometres from Quaregnon to Dour, including cobblestone sections, tiny roads and a hilly finale, awaited the riders. After a hard race it was Matteo Trentin who took the win in a sprint by the breakaway. From the perspective of BORA - hansgrohe Jonas Koch put in an offensive race but ultimately  didn’t make the jump to the decisive group.

"I tried to attack a couple of times today and always tried to ride actively here. The final 50 kilometres were super hectic and attacks were flying. During the last 25 kilometres I was able to join the first group but ultimately wasn’t able to make the jump to the decisive group, which I’m really disappointed about.“ - Jonas Koch

"With 25 cobblestone sections within the last 90 kilometres of the race it was a super tough day again. Jonas Koch was our leader for today, he put in a strong race but ultimately couldn’t make the jump to the decisive group in the finale. Today we couldn’t fulfill our expectations but  compared to the weekend we improved a bit. Full focus is now on the next objectives.“ - Jean-Pierre Heynderickx, Sports Director

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