Le Samyn des Dames returns in 2021 with a strong line-up. 7 of the 9 Women’s WorldTour teams will be attending, with only Canyon-SRAM and Team BikeExchange not racing. Le Samyn is known for its cobbled sections, which come into play as the race becomes attritional in its latter stages. You have to go back to 2017’s race to find a winner who didn’t arrive at the finish line solo. Even then, the 2016 and 2017 finishes were both only contested by 2 riders. So expect to see another solo attack to stick or a small group to get away from the peloton.
In total, there are 5 cobbled sectors of varying difficulty to negotiate. The 1-star 1400m long Vert Pignon is near the start of the finishing circuit lap. The 2-star La Roquette follows, which is shorter at 500m. The first 3-star sector is the 400m long Chemin de Wiheries. Then there is the 300m long Cote des Nonettes (also 3-star) and finally the equally tough Rue Belle Vue for 500m.
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak is the queen of Le Samyn des Dames. Until 2020, she was the only rider to have won the race twice but won again to increase her record. Strong winds split up the peloton early on. Then with 57km to go, Van den Broek-Blaak attacked on the Cote de la Roquette. With 2 teammates interrupting the chase of the group of 5 behind, she wasn’t seen again and won comfortably. Christine Majerus won the sprint for 2nd and as the main bunch rolled in nearly 4 minutes later, Lonneke Ueneken took that sprint for Boels Dolmans too.
2020 – Chantal van den Broek-Blaak
2019 – Jip van den Bos
2018 – Janneke Ensing
2017 – Sheyla Gutierrez
2016 – Chantal van den Broek-Blaak
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Tuesday 2nd March
13:00 – 14:15 (GMT)
Le Samyn des Dames 2021 Profile
Le Samyn des Dames 2021 Favourites
The winner of Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Anna van der Breggen won’t be racing Le Samyn and nor will multiple-winner Chantal van den Broek-Blaak. Instead, SD Worx’s hope rests on the combination of Jolien d’Hoore and Amy Pieters. Both riders are great in a sprint situation and d’Hoore appears to be the #1 option for the team. Amy Pieters managed a great 3rd in Omloop het Nieuwsblad though, so might have the form to take the victory instead. Failing that, there’s always Christine Majerus and Elena Cecchini. Majerus could take on the ‘long option’ that Demi Vollering did on Saturday and Cecchini is yet another rider great in a sprint.
Team DSM was massively hyped going into Omloop het Nieuswblad, but however disappointed a little. Their hopes at Le Samyn des Dames will be between
Floortje Mackaij and Lorena Wiebes. Mackaij gives the team a great breakaway option which was on display at last year’s Brabantse Pijl. She’s also been 2nd at Le Samyn before, in 2018. If the race does stay together though, Lorena Wiebes is the best sprinter on the start list. Wiebes hasn’t raced Le Samyn since 2018 and was second in the bunch sprint that day for 8th place. She finished 2020 in great form but needs this race to trend towards her skills to succeed.
Trek Segafredo also disappointed in the first race of the season, only Elisa Longo Borghini lit things up at the front of the race. Chloe Hosking is probably their best shout in this race. She’s shown she can handle the cobbles and her strong sprint will be useful at the end of the race as well. Her best result here is 4th place. The rest of the team are useful as well but don’t have the best histories at Le Samyn. I tipped Marlen Reusser to do well at the weekend on her new team and she finished 14th. She’s got the potential to be one of the stars of the classics season with her big engine. Reusser has raced Le Samyn once and finished well down but this time with a team behind her she’s a good bet for the top-5.
Soraya Paladin very quietly finished 16th in Omloop. She was seen working for Lotte Kopecky before then but still had enough to stay near the front of the race too. Paladin was 4th in 2018’s Le Samyn des Dames and 14th last year, so has a decent record. Her teammate Valerie Demey is another option. She’s finished around 20th in the last 3 editions of Le Samyn that she’s raced. If the race stays together and there’s a group sprint, Liv will focus on Demey over Paladin. Lotte Kopecky is now on the start list and will be the major contender for Liv Racing.
Emma Norsgaard got her 2021 season off to a great start with 2nd in Omloop het Nieuwsblad. With leader Annemiek van Vleuten too far back, she got to race for herself and won the bunch sprint. She’s never raced Le Samyn before but based on the weekend, is a contender. Her Movistar teammate Aude Biannic was 6th here last year and gives the team another option. Biannic was one of Movistar’s main classics specialists before they strengthened their team this off-season.
Lotto’s Christina Siggaard has a top-10 finish in a previous edition of Le Samyn but she didn’t race much at all in 2020 with just 2 race days. If there’s a bunch sprint that will suit her most. It’s a similar story for Jumbo Visma’s Romy Kasper. She’s been 4th and 6th at Le Samyn and a small bunch sprint would allow her the best chance for a good result. She was supporting in Omloop het Nieuwsblad so it’s hard to read her current form.
Valcar’s Chiara Consonni also will be crossing her fingers for a bunch sprint. She was well down the order in Omloop het Nieuwsblad but given some luck to stay at the front of the race, can become a contender.
Drops’ Marjolein van ‘t Geloof always does well at Le Samyn. She was 8th, 13th and 10th here in the last 3 season. She was a little bit behind at the weekend, finishing 40th at Omloop but this flatter course with a sprint finish suits her abilities.
Le Samyn des Dames 2021 Outsiders
Trek’s Letizia Paternoster hardly raced in 2020. She was busy preparing for the track events at the postponed Tokyo Olympics. She broke out in 2019 by winning a stage of the Tour Down Under and finishing 3rd at Gent Wevelgem. If she still has that sort of form on the road, she can be a big contender at Le Samyn.
FDJ’s Lauren Kitchen could be useful if the race finishes in a small bunch finish. FDJ have a number of similar riders like Clara Copponi and Eugenie Duval – so any of the 3 could present themselves as the team’s contenders. Duval was 10th in 2019’s Le Samyn but Kitchen has the best record. She was 3rd in 2018 and 9th in 2016.
FDJ have announced that they won’t be taking part, following a COVID contact
I’m similarly torn between Parkhotel Valkenburg’s options. Femke Markus has the team’s #1 for the race but Amber van der Hulst is also a great sprinter in waiting. Both finished around 40th at Omloop het Nieuwsblad so there’s no clear way to differentiate between them on the form. Markus has never raced Le Samyn and Van der Hulst DNFed her one attempt. Markus is the all-round option and Van der Hulst will be most usual in a final sprint.
Bingoal Casino’s Thalita de Jong is still on the long road back to being the rider that she was around 4 or 5 years ago. Injuries halted her progress after becoming a world champion in cyclocross. She finished amongst the largest group on Saturday’s Omloop het Nieuwsblad, finishing 52nd. That encouraging result, her first race finish since 2019, gives hope for a good result in this lower level race.