Arnaud Démare sprints to Le Samyn victory
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Arnaud Démare sprints to Le Samyn victory

by Ben Atkins at 11:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Race Reports and Results
World under-23 champion takes a simple win after an aggressive race of breaks and attacks; Adrie Visser takes first ever women's race

arnaud demare

Arnaud Démare (FDJ-BigMat) sprinted to his second victory of the season in Le Samyn, at the end of a race dominated by attacks and counterattacks. The French under-23 World champion cruised past Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM), as the Belgian attempted to continue what turned out to be a long sprint for the line after losing contact with his sprinter Romain Feillu. Adrien Petit (Cofidis), who took the silver medal behind Démare in Copenhagen, took the final podium place.

While the sprinters’ teams had the race under control for the entire day, the sprint was only possible after the peloton had neutralised a five-man breakaway that escaped early on. Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Dennis Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol), Jonathan Breyne (Landbouwkrediet), Kevin Van Melsen ( Verandas) and Antoine Demoitie (Idemasport-Biowanze) managed to build a lead of 8’45” by the mid point of the race, but were steadily closed down and caught with 25km to go.

There were then a series of counterattacks, with the most threatening from Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) with less than ten kilometres to go; with so many teams riding for a sprint however, all were doomed to failure.

FDJ-BigMat took control of the front of the peloton on the rise inside the final kilometre, but were overtaken by Vacansoleil-DCM as they turned into the finishing straight. Boeckmans surged forward to lead out Feillu, but the French sprinter was blocked in a few riders back; Boeckmans slowed and looked over his shoulder to see where Feillu was and, realising that he wasn’t there, tried to sprint for himself.

It was a simple matter for Démare to cruise past, but the Belgian managed to hold off the rest; Feillu came in seventh.

"I won but I owe a lot to my team who did a tremendous job,” said Démare immediately afterwards. “We worked well together on Sunday at Kuurne[-Brussel-Kuurne], and today our roles were reversed; ‘Huta’ [teammate Yauheni Hutarovich - ed] was to take me the sprint! "

The uphill sprint finish suited the 20-year-old, who already marked his full entry to the professional peloton with a stage victory in Qatar earlier in the month; his Samyn victory reminded him of an earlier glory however.

"It's a false flat climb, which I like,” he said, “making me think of Copenhagen when I became World champion. I saw Boeckmans attack 300 metres from the line but I felt I had reserves, I did not panic, thinking he would fade a little.”

The break goes long but has very little chance

It was very early in the race that the five-man group of Keisse, Vanendert, Breyne, Van Melsen and Demoitie got away and, with the damp, murky conditions more akin to typical Belgian racing than the relative warmth of the previous weekend, the peloton allowed them to take plenty of time.

By the middle of the race the quintet had opened up a lead of 8’45” before the FDJ-BigMat and Vacansoleil-DCM teams decided to close them down.

With Garmin-Barracuda joining the chase, the peloton had the gap down to 2’57” as the leaders crossed the line with just the three 19.1km finishing circuits to go. Despite a puncture from Alex Rasmussen, which saw the US team slow the chase a little, the break was now doomed; the next time across the line their advantage had been cut to just 1’15”

Aggression from Keisse managed to prolong the agony a little, but with the FDJ-BigMat team upping the pace on the Côte d'Audregnies - the circuit’s cobbled climb - the gap closed to little more that 30 seconds.

Edwig Cammaerts (Cofidis) began to attack the peloton, with the five leaders now in sight; he was not allowed to escape but the skirmishes meant that the break’s day in the sun was almost over.

RadioShack-Nissan added its strength to the Garmin-Barracuda chase and it was all over with 25km to go. There were immediate counterattacks from several riders, but they were all pulled back as the peloton’s pace continued to rise, and the race was all together as it took the bell for the final 19.1km lap.

The counterattacks continued into the final lap, with Johan Le Bon (Bretagne-Schuller) briefly managing to get away with Cammaerts and Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar). The trio was caught with 12km to go, but as the peloton hit a stretch of cobbles a kilometre later another group got away, with Jakob Fuglsang (RadioShack-Nissan), Steve Chainel (FDJ-BigMat) Boeckmans, Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and Kwiatkowski.

As they were caught Kwiatkowski jumped away and continued alone. Teams were massing on the front of the peloton, with NetApp and FDJ-BigMat forward in numbers, but as he entered the final 7km the Polish rider was maintaining a seven second gap. Just as he was about to be caught Chainel and Benoît Vaugrenard (Saur-Sojasun) jumped across, but all three were caught with 2.5km to go.

With its breakaway rider back in the fold, Omega Pharma-Quick Step took control of the peloton as the final kilometre approached. Vacansoleil-DCM took over though, as they hit the final rise to the finishing straight, only for FDJ-BigMat to surge forward in the final 500 metres.

Boeckmans went very early, but was constantly looking over his shoulder, wonder when he was to be overtaken by his sprinter Feillu; with 100 metres to go, he was passed, but it was Demare that cruised by to take the victory.

Adrie Visser takes victory in attritional women’s race

Earlier in the day, Adrie Visser (Skil-1t4i) took her first victory of the season, after two third places in the Tour of Qatar, in the inaugural women’s event. The Dutch rouleur beat Italian champion Noemi Cantele (Be Pink) into second place, with Trixi Worrack (Specialized-lululemon) third.

The 116.4km race, which was the first round of the women’s Lotto Cycling Cup, saw an early solo move from Vera Koedooder (Sengers Ladies) and, once the track specialist had been pulled back, Sara Mustonen (Hitec Products-Mistral Home) and Maaike Polspoel (Topsport Vlaanderen-Ridley 2012) escaped.

With GreenEDGE-AIS, Stichting Rabo, and Skil-1t4i all working on the front of the peloton however, there was little chance of the duo staying away to the finish.

The speed of the peloton saw it split on the rolling, cobbled circuit however, and it was reduced to just 25 riders by the time it entered the finishing straight, where Visser proved the fastest.

Result Le Samyn Elite Men
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
2. Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
3. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
4. Anthony Ravard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan
6. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team
7. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Alexei Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha Team
9. Jean-Luc Delpech (Fra) Bretagne-Schuller
10. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step

Result Le Samyn Elite Women
1. Adrie Visser (Ned) Skil-1t4i
2. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Be Pink
3. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon
4. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon
5. Megan Guarnier (USA) United States National Team
6. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEDGE-AIS
7. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products-Mistral Home
8. Christine Majerus (Lux) Team GSD Gestion
9. Kaat Hannes (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
10. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Ridley 2012 @ 2s


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