Le Samyn is a bit of an oddity. It’s a Flemish-style race in the middle of the Flanders Classics season that takes place in WalloniaHarry Pearson, ‘The Beast, The Emperor and The Milkman‘
Hot on the heels of the opening weekend comes Le Samyn. Whilst it may not be as fėted as some of its classics cousins, it has served up some of the tastiest road racing in recent times. Tomorrow’s edition features no less than three British Continental teams: Canyon
What is it?
As Harry Pearson says, it’s a Flemish-style race in Wallonia. A UCI 1.1 race, it features a series of cobbled sectors, each with their own star rating, a feature that has led to the race being dubbed a mini Paris-Roubaix. It is also the first race of the Bingoal Cycling Cup – the season-long Belgian cycling cup that was sponsored by Napolean Games in previous years.
201.4 kilometres in length according to the official website. Starting in the town of Quaregnon, it is a race of two halves. For the first 100 kilometres or so, the race heads north before looping back south to the finish town of Dour, taking in several short sharp bergs on the way.
The second half features four laps of a finishing circuit and it’s here that race gets particularly interesting. Each lap includes four cobbled sectors, including the bone-rattling 500-metre-long ‘Rue de Belle Vue’ which comes just 2 kilometres from the stiff uphill finish.
The race started back in 1968, then known as the Grand Prix de Fayt-le-Franc. It changed
No Brit has ever won the race, although Scott Thwaites did come second to Nikki Terpstra in a particularly brutal, rain-soaked edition in 2016. Roger Hammond also came second in 2000.
British riders to watch
Expect the race to dominated by the Belgians, particularly the mighty Deceuninck – QuickStep. They’re resting their big classics stars but nonetheless have enough firepower to remain the team to beat after their double success at the weekend.
None of the British teams
Team Wiggins Le Col include New Zealand Road Race champion James Fouché. Fouché was a strong breakaway rider in the recent Tour of Antalya and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the early break at Le Samyn. This is a race well-suited to Gabriel Cullaigh, winner of the Rutland-Melton Cicle Classic in 2018. He didn’t seem to be on top form at the Tour of Antalya, but on his day this is the kind of race he can excel at.
SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling come into the race without any 2019 race days under their belt. So I’d expect this race to be more of a learning opportunity for the team, both on and off the bike; a chance for the riders to learn how to race together, and an opportunity for the staff to test out new equipment and logistical arrangements. Nonetheless, recent World Tour rider James Shaw will be a rider to keep an eye on, as he will have a lot to prove this season.
Start time: 12:25 CET, expected finish: 17:29 CET
It is due to rain overnight and could still be raining by the time the race starts. So the course will be wet and the cobbles slippery. There will be fairly strong winds too, so echelons may well feature in the opening loop on the more exposed parts of the course.
The race will be on Eurosport and coverage is due to begin at 14.00 GMT.
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