Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quickstep) parlayed a 14km solo attack into victory in a miserable edition of Le Samyn. The Dutch champion quickly dispatched Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18), but the British rider held onto second ahead of a chasing group led home by Florian Senechal (Cofidis).
“It was a really tough race, as we rode full gas from the beginning,” Terpstra said. “The last 10 kilometers were the hardest of the entire race. I knew I had about 15 seconds on Thwaites and I had to continue pulling. To make things even more difficult, the last 3 kilometers had a headwind and an uphill part. The weather conditions made the race beautiful in a strange way. I am happy with this victory, as it gives me confidence and comes as a confirmation that my condition is good for the upcoming Classics.”
Cold rain, wind, and numerous rough cobbled sectors made this edition of Le Samyn particularly treacherous, and there were many crashes that disrupted the 203km race from Quaregnon to Dour in Wallonia. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) called it quits after the race hit the four 25km local circuits.
Gediminas Bagdonas (AG2R La Mondiale) led the peloton into the circuits, and was joined by an elite group that had separated itself from the rest of the race on the second of four laps.
With four cobbled secteurs on the circuit, the last coming with just under 3km to go, the race situation was constantly changing. Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) led for a time before being caught and dropping out. Then Katusha’s Nils Pollit had a go.
Behind him only Terpstra, Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Thwaites, Sven Erik Bystrøm (Katusha), Loïc Vliegen (BMC), Sénéchal, Tony Hurel (Direct Energie), Daniel McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), and Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen) remained.
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