Le Samyn des Dames History
Le Samyn des Dames is the delayed third race of an elongated opening weekend. Whilst Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Omloop van het Hageland take place on Saturday and Sunday, we only have to wait until Tuesday for another big race. Relatively flat but with a couple of short steep climbs, Le Samyn des Dames is a toss-up between a small group or solo winner and a bunch sprint. The last 2 editions have all come back together but previously the likes of Ellen van Dijk and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak have been successful on the attack.
We usually see the cobbled climbs of Côte de la Roquette and Côte de Nonettes, plus flat cobbled sections at Chemin de Wiheries, Vert Pignon and Rue Belle Vue for good measure. We’re not talking anything like the Paterberg across the parcours of Le Samyn des Dames and for the most part, the peloton will stretch and contract repeatedly. Recent seasons have seen riders more likely to drop out of the back of the peloton in regular intervals than a raking attack. Shirin van Anrooij rolled the dice last season, one of the first times on the road that the young Dutch rider really went at a race. That move set the tone for the rest of her successful 2022 season.
A quirk of this season’s start list is the team of each winner since 2018 will not be taking part in 2023’s race.
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak
Le Samyn des Dames 2023 Profile
Le Samyn des Dames 2023 Contenders
Human Powered Health will have a dilemma to choose between Majo van ‘t Geloof, Alice Barnes and Daria Pikulik. Pikulik already has a stage win from the Women’s Tour Down Under this season and is the fastest of the trio in a regular sprint. She’s had a spell racing track at the European Championships before coming back to the road. Alice Barnes doesn’t have a result of note so far in 2023 but was 8th in last year’s Le Samyn des Dames. It’s Majo van ‘t Geloof who has the best record in this race though with 4 top-10s and a worst finish of 13th since 2018. The Dutch rider finished 8th on the first stage of the UAE Tour Women.
Lotta Henttala had a strong return to racing with a pair of 2nd places at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. It was quite some results after her time away and showed that she might return to her best, last seen around 2019. Despite that, Henttala doesn’t have the best Le Samyn des Dames record with a best finish of 34th in 2015. Her teammate Romy Kasper is the rider on AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step with the best record. 3 top-10s in her last 4 editions, including a best of 4th in 2017.
Jayco-AlUla should probably be backing Ruby Roseman-Gannon here. She had a strong Australian part of the season with 4th at the Women’s Tour Down under and 7th at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. She’s still looking for her first European win and the slightly uphill sprint here might suit.
FDJ-SUEZ comes with a wealth of options. With a sprint finish, you’d be backing Gladys Verhulst and Vittoria Guazzini. The latter was 6th on a Setmana Ciclista Valenciana stage but then DNFed the next day which means we might need to see how she does at Omloo het Nieuwsblad before being certain of her chances here. Instead, Gladys Verhulst was 4th here in 2021 and had a top-10 at the UAE Tour Women.
The non-sprint finish threat is Loes Adegeest. Winner of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the eSports world championships again. Expect to see her making a move before the finish, which forces other teams to chase.
The Uno-X pair of Susanne Andersen and Anniina Ahtosalo will try to score some more points for the struggling Norwegian team. Andersen was 4th here last year but Ahtosalo has been more noticeable so far in 2023. Her early sprint to try and catch the big names off guard at the UAE Tour Women might’ve worked on another day. Andersen raced the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana but couldn’t break into the top-10 on the flat finishes. There is also now Maria Giulia Confalonieri too who has a best result in 2023 of 4th on the opening stage of the UAE Tour Women.
If Omloop van het Hageland is very much a Marta Bastianelli race, then that’s less the case for Le Samyn des Dames. The experienced Italian has only raced it twice, in 2017 & 2019, finishing 8th in the latter. Instead, it may come down to last year’s 2nd place finisher Chiara Consonni. She’s certainly in good form, with a 2nd and 3rd at the UAE Tour Women and could be a genuine threat here as the fastest sprinter on paper. A lead out from Bastianelli and Eleonora Gasparrini, who was 5th on four stages at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana should surely do the trick.
St Michel-Mavic-Auber93’s Roxane Fournier should prove to be a contender. She has top-10s here from 2016 and 2018 and whilst that is some time ago, Fournier seems to have re-found a leadership role on her new team. Certainly, her last edition of Le Samyn des Dames in 2021 saw the French rider working for Amy Pieters. Her teammate Simone Boilard will always be a threat too and was 16th here last season. The Canadian is probably missing a truly top result in 2023 but 10th at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race shows she has form.
Zaaf Cycling’s contenders will again be the fast trio of Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Dani de Francesco and Maggie Coles-Lyster. At Le Samyn des Dames, you can expect Audrey Cordon-Ragot to either go on the offensive or marshall the team’s sprinters around the cobbled sections. She is also sprinting well this year but surely it will be one of the next two riders. Dani de Francesco and Maggie Coles-Lyster are fast finishers but neither has a great deal of experience in this sort of race with its cobbled sections. They may take to it like a duck to water but that won’t be clear until after the race.
Another rider with a strong result in Australia was Team Coop-Hitec Product’s Josie Nelson. She was 4th at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the parcours here suits, tough but not too tough. The Brit finished 17th in last year’s Le Samyn des Dames and could improve on that this year.
For Ceratizit-WNT they’ve got a nice dilemma of having to choose between Arianna Fidanza and Mylene de Zoete at this year’s race. I’d be slightly more inclined to back the Italian who was 12th in last year’s Le Samyn des Dames and won Women Cycling Pro Costa de Almeria already this year. Her climbing has been particularly impressive and the course here won’t cause any issues, especially after her performance at Omloop van het Hageland. If Mylene de Zoete can stick in there, she’s a threat too after a pair of top-10s in the UAE Tour Women. Her best finish here though is 27th in 2018 and she has DNFed the last 2 years.
There are plenty of names for Parkhotel Valkenburg once again. Their two highest finishers in last year’s race are now at SD Worx but we should get to see Scarlett Souren in her new jersey for the first time. She was impressive last year, regularly turning up in the top-10 in Belgian one-day races. Only 19, she is a young rider to keep an eye on. As well as her, Sofie van Rooijen is always a threat in the Belgian 1.1 sprint finishes,
and the same goes for Marith Vanhove too. At the moment it’s hard to pick them apart or know the hierarchy as Parkhotel Valkenburg hasn’t raced so far in 2023.
Le Samyn des Dames 2023 Outsiders
Cofidis’ Slovenian rider Spela Kern appears to be in some good form. She finished 11th in GC at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana last week and didn’t have trouble matching some of her Women’s WorldTour rivals on the climbs there. She was 15th back at the 2020 Le Samyn des Dames and whilst a sprint finish probably doesn’t suit her, if it breaks up then she can be an attacking threat.
Marthe Truyen is a regular threat when it comes to the Belgian calendar and as her Fenix-Deceucninck team gets stronger, she should get more support. Julie de Wilde will have had the nod at the opening weekend races but Truyen looks to be the best shout for the team on the Le Samyn des Dames start list. She’s in the outsiders section after a quiet UAE Tour and has no previous Le Samyn experience.
There are going to be quite a few interested to see how MAT ATOM Deweloper Wroclaw’s Dominika Wlodarczyk gets on this season. Her former teammates Daria Pikulik and Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka moved onto WWT teams this off-season whereas Wlodarczyk stayed put. That should allow her many leadership opportunities this season after already winning 2 stages and GC at the U23 Watersley Challenge and a Giro Toscana stage in 2022. This may not be the race she shines in but don’t be surprised to see a big result from the Pole soon.