After the excitement of the opening weekend which saw stars Annemiek van Vleuten and Lorena Wiebes take victories, Le Samyn Dames is on Tuesday 3rd March. Just 2 days rest and many of the riders who had a full weekend will be back in the saddle. Neither of Van Vleuten and Wiebes will be racing Le Samyn Dames and nor will the rest of their teams, so we’ll see a new 2020 season winner.
This year Le Samyn Dames is 94.9km long with a short opening ride taking the riders from Quaregnon to Dour. From here riders will race 3 laps of a 27km circuit. The peak of the circuit comes just after the finish line so attacks are likely to be made there. The slight uphill to the finish line will make sure that only the strongest are able to contest the sprint. The last few years have seen solo wins and very small groups have success. The last big bunch sprints were in 2014 & 2015.
There are also 5 cobbled sectors of varying difficulty to negotiate. The 1-star 1400m long Vert Pignon is near the start of the lap. This is followed by the 2-star La Roquette, which is shorter at 500m. The first 3-star sector is the 400m long Chemin de Wiheries. 5km later is the 300m long Cote des Nonettes (also 3-star) and finally the equally tough Rue Belle Vue for 500m. The last sector comes just 4km before the finish line, so could see some late attacks for victory.
Women’s Le Samyn Dames 2020 Favourites
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak got her season off to a good start with 4th place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. She’s won this race twice, in 2015 & 2016. Blaak’s teammate Jip van den Bos was last year’s winner, the best result in her career so far. She was 9th in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad over the weekend and is a good second option to have. Christine Majerus did a tonne of work in Saturday’s race for her teammates and still finished 19th. She’s always got a chance, with a pair of top-10s in Le Samyn Dames previously. Boels Dolmans didn’t race on Sunday so are going to be fresher than most.
Trek animated the racing on Sunday at Omloop van het Hageland. They didn’t get much to show for it with Lotta Henttala finishing 7th. Henttala is racing again here but will only be a contender if there’s a sprint near the end. Instead, Ellen van Dijk is their best hope. She did huge turns on Sunday, acting as a lead-out rider and attacking cobbled climbs. She won Le Samyn Dames in 2013 and twice finished 4th too.
Bigla Katusha’s Emma Norsgaard was 3rd in Omloop van het Hageland. Once again finishing strongly in a bunch sprint after her 6th in Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. She’s another like Henttala who will need a bunch to reach the finish together to win.
Another rider hoping for a sprint finish is NXTG’s 20-year-old Charlotte Kool. She finished 6th in Omloop van het Hageland. Kool has been taken off the startlist.
Movistar have the 2017 winner in Sheyla Gutierrez. She won by getting into a strong breakaway group of 5 and dropping almost everyone before the finish line. She also finished 6th in 2018. She didn’t have a great opening weekend with a DNF and 70th place though. Her teammate Aude Biannic did better with 10th place in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, so could be an option. The other Movistar option is Barbara Guarischi. She finished 5th in last year’s Le Samyn Dames after getting herself into the original breakaway that saw Van Den Bos win from. Guarischi was also 2nd in the Vuelta Ciclista Feminas earlier this season.
Team TIBCO’s Nina Kessler finished 7th in the 2018 Le Samyn Dames, winning the bunch sprint behind the successful breakaway. She has raced a lot in 2020 already, having done the Australian races like the Tour Down Under as well. But she only has a single 4th place of note in the Herald Sun Tour. Chevalmaire have the 2018 5th place finisher in Natalie van Gogh. She’s done well in the opening weekend with a pair of 20-something placings. Her teammate Rossella Ratto is another option and has finished 16th here before.
Belgian Lotto Soudal teammates Lotte Kopecky & Annelies Dom are back on the road after taking part in the Track World Championships in Berlin. Kopecky hasn’t raced on the road so far in 2020 so her form is unknown. She’s a powerful sprinter though so will be wanting the race to stay together.
Annelies Dom managed to finish 17th in Omloop van het Hageland in her first race of 2020. She’s had a pair of top-20 finishes at Le Samyn Dames in the past and is a capable second option.
Another sprinter option is Kathrin Schweinberger. So far her Doltcini-Van Eyck team have been lighting up the early breakaways in races without having anyone left at the finish to contend. Maybe at this 1.2 ranked race, that will change. Finally, Drops Cycling will be riding for Marjolein van ‘t Geloof who has finished 10th and 13th at Le Samyn Dames before. Her best result so far in 2020 is 11th on a Setmana Ciclista Valenciana stage.
Women’s Le Samyn Dames 2020 Outsiders
The Isorex British pair of Nicola Juniper and Emily Nelson are good outsiders. The evergreen Juniper finished 18th place here last year and got her 2020 season off to a good start with a solid 36th at Omloop van het Hageland. Emily Nelson doesn’t mind some tough riding after winning Rutland Melton in 2019. Nelson’s still re-finding her Belgian racing feet after a solid 2017 season there, she was 99th in Omloop van het Hageland this weekend.
Boels’ longshot option is in the 19-year-old (as of 2nd March, she’s 20!) Lonneke Uneken who finished 21st in the 2019 Le Samyn Dames. This year racing on a stronger team, she might get a Quickstep-esque opportunity to get a good result for herself. Hitec Products have their own young longshot option in Amalie Lutro who is also 19. She managed 2nd place in a Tour of Dubai stage at this level a couple of weeks ago but struggled in the 1.1 races this weekend. A mechanical put paid to her race on Sunday. She’ll be hoping for a sprint finish.
Another young-gun is Lotto’s Lone Meertens who was in the front group attacking the race on Sunday. She ultimately finished 30th when it came back for a sprint but it was still an impressive ride. St Michel – Auber 93 French rider Barbara Fonseca is solid racing in France at this 1.2 level. She consistently gets results around 20th place and could replicate that here in Belgium.
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak
Ellen van Dijk