Boels-Dolmans dominance continues as Blaak Wins Le Samyn
Continuing the early season success of her Boels-Dolmans team, Chantal Blaak won the fourth edition of Le Samyn des Dames in Dour. Blaak edged out Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) and Le Samyn defending champion Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) in the reduced bunch sprint.
“Ellen [van Dijk] did the lead-out for Chantel,” explained Johansson, who was fifth wheel coming into the finish. “They came in super fast. Van der Breggen was there on the wheel from Chantal and then Chloe [Hosking] and then me.”
Johansson was part of a late break of six riders overtaken by a fast-charging peloton in the final kilometres of the 112 km day. The six-rider move also Hosking (Wiggle Honda), van der Breggen, Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur), Ashleigh Moolman-Paiso (Bigla) and Blaak’s Boels-Dolmans teammate Megan Guarnier. With nearly all the big teams represented in the breakaway and more than a minute gap at the five kilometre mark, the move had staying power on paper but was unable to hold off the spirited chase group.
“When we went through the cobble section just before the finish line for the start of the last lap, that’s when van der Breggen attacked,” explained Johansson. “That’s how the group of six got away. I gave it a crack over the hill because that’s my strength against the others. I didn’t think I would drop anyone, but I thought I could maybe tire them out a bit.”
“I don’t think Guarnier knew what to do in that break – if she should ride or not,” Johansson added. “She took some turns at the beginning but then she didn’t work. Everyone else was sort of taking their turns.”
Johansson made one last effort to slim down the breakaway and fend off the chasers over the cobbles before the finish line.
“There’s that cobble section at two kilometres, so I attacked there to see what would happen,” said Johansson. “Everyone was hesitating a bit before that, and a few of the girls had stopped taking turns. So – I attacked. All that happened was that we dropped Amy Pieters. I backed off again after the cobbles because I thought someone else would have go. Van der Breggen was really strong today, and I was surprised she didn’t attack.”
Pieters latched back on to the leading group, but by that point the chasers had the breakaway within sight. Johansson and company were swallowed up 600 metres before the line.
“Chantal and Ellen were still fresh coming into the finish, and with the strength from the lead-out Ellen could do, it’s not a surprise that Chantal won,” Johansson noted. “Yes, Boels-Dolmans won today but I don’t think they were so dominant this time compared to Het Nieuwsblad. With the race on Saturday, they outnumbered every team in every move, you know? It wasn’t like that today.”
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