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  Le Samyn des Dames Preview  
  The early season classics continue with Le Samyn. The event doubles as the opening round of the season long Lotto Cycling Cup. No UCI points are on offer for winning the Lotto Cycling Cup but there is jerseys, prize money available across the overall, sprint, mountains and team classifications. As well as the standard UCI points for the individual race.

For a number of the field especially the Australian's their seasons have been going since January, many others started in early February in Qatar and for others it is just starting.

2014 Recap

As with the 2012 edition the race finished with a select group of around 40 riders contesting the sprint.

2 Ashleigh MOOLMAN +0
3 Sofie DE VUYST +0
4 Eleonora VAN DIJK +0
5 Maaike POLSPOEL +0
6 Maura KINSELLA +0
7 Amy PIETERS +0
9 Emilia FAHLIN +0
10 Joanne KIESANOWSKI +0

Past Winners

2012 Adrie VISSER
2013 Ellen VAN DIJK

The Route

The 112km race starts with an opening 59.9km section over rolling roads. The undulating roads and the mixture of big UCI teams and club teams is likely to see the peloton quickly thin out. Ahead of the finishing circuit riders face a long gradual rise and the first cobbled section. Both will likely further reduce the peloton.

Two finishing circuits of 24.7km complete the race and where the main action is likely to take place. The laps start off with a small rise before a false flat for the opening few kilometres. The second half of the lap is more undulating giving riders a few opportunities to attack.

Not to discount the importance of the three cobbled sections on the finishing circuit. Inside the first 5km of the lap comes the Rue du vert pignon. The cobbled climb of Côte de la Roquette is likely to be the most significant of the three though. Coming at the mid point of the lap it is likely to feature attacks as teams try to distance any sprinters.

The last Rue de Belle Vue comes inside the final three kilometres. Making it a perfect opportunity for a strong classics rider to attack and try to hold on to the finish.

The uphill finish makes it one for the stronger riders who are not necessarily pure sprinters. Just look at the top three from last year Emma Johansson, Ashleigh Moolman and Sofie De Vuyst. All quick finishes but not pure sprinters.

The Contenders

Start list available here

Emma Johansson and Orica-AIS

The defending champion who is normally strong from the first race of the season to the finish will be looking to defend her title. The uphill run in to the finish is perfectly suited to Johansson, who as well as winning in 2014 finished third in 2013. Johansson had support from Gracie Elvin in the important stages at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but was outnumbered with the other top teams Boels Dolmans, Rabo and Velocio having four or five riders.

Johansson has been responsible for the majority of Orica-AIS's wins the past two years but they have a very strong team. Classics specialist and road captain Loes Gunnewijk will be crucial to the success of Orica-AIS. With their track riders not yet starting their European season and several riders with injury they could find themselves on the back foot again.

The team is always aggressive and with Amanda Spratt and Gracie Elvin they have two cards to play who can go long and win a sprint from a small group.

Boels Dolmans

The Ladies Tour of Qatar showed the strength of Boels Dolmans and they were dominant again at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on the weekend. The team always had numbers in the moves and while they didn't pull off the win they claimed 2nd, 3rd and 4th with Ellen Van Dijk, Lizzie Armitstead and Chantal Blaak.

After winning the bunch sprint and finishing third at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Armitstead was a favourite for the race but has elected to sit out. Van Dijk might have missed out on the win but her second place shows she still has the form that saw her solo to win stage two in Qatar. The uphill finish suits her but lacks the finishing speed of others so don't be surprised to see her go on the attack.

Chantal Blaak finished fourth and could have easily been third on the weekend. Another rider with good form and the uphill finish increases her chances. Won Molecaten Drentse 8 with a late attack and did the same at Open de Suède Vargarda where she won from a three rider group that included Amy Pieters.

Wiggle Honda

Chloe Hosking seems to be coming in to good form finishing in the first chase group at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, finishing 12th and equalling her performance in 2012. Hosking finished 18th here last year but the uphill finish doesn't suit her perfectly.

Jolien D'hoore started her season with sixth in Qatar, before finishing fourth in the omnium at the Track World championships. Returned to the road at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but was off the pace in a sign her road legs haven't quite returned yet. Her best finish here was 10th in 2012 but D'hoore is a much stronger rider. Still unlikely to be at her best but if she is in the front group at the finish don't discount her.

Elisa Longo Borghini showed good form on the weekend but isn't racing here. Audrey Cordon is a rider worth watching as the uphill finish suits her.

Rabo Liv

Rabo were relatively quiet at the Ladies Tour of Qatar and while they had a very slow start to the European season in 2014 they have already changed that in 2015. Still just 24 but the experienced Van der Breggen won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on the weekend and will look to back that up with another win here. Top six in the opening three World Cup rounds last year. Last year won Dwars door de Westhoek, a stage and the overall at Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs, stage and overall at the Ladies Tour of Norway plus podium finishes at Emakumeen Euskal Bira, Giro Rosa and the Lotto Belisol Belgium Tour. With a number of faster finishers in the race expect to see her again attempt to get away solo or as part of a two or three rider move ahead of the finish.

20 year old Katarzyna Niewiadoma is a rider on the rise and ready to step up further in 2015. Won Frauen Grand Prix Gippingen in June before finished third at the Ladies Tour of Norway, eighth at Boels Rental Ladies Tour and Premondiale Giro Toscana before just missing the top 10 at the World Championships. A strong finish especially on the uphill run we have here.


Commonwealth bronze medallist Ashleigh Moolman finished runner up to Emma Johansson last year. Both are similar riders who like this sort of uphill finish but if Moolman is to get the better of Johansson she is likely to have to get the jump as few in the world can outsprint Johansson on a finish like this. Has had a strong start to the year doing the time trial and road race double at the South African National and African Continental Championships. Finished in the first chasing group in 11th at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on the weekend.

In Numainville and Olds, Bigla have two other cards to play. Olds is one of the fastest sprinters in the women's peloton and a regular podium finisher and winner in bunch sprints. Didn't race here last year having gone to South America after the Tour of Qatar but won the bunch sprint for second in 2013 behind Ellen Van Dijk. The uphill sprint is unlikely to trouble Olds. If she is in the front group a name to watch.

Joelle Numainville on the other hand while still quick on the line is more of a puncheur and has finished second at Winston-Salem Cycling Classic the past two years, with Olds having won last year. Knowing Olds is back in the peloton Numainville can be aggressive on the finishing circuits.

Sofie De Vuyst

De Vuyst is a rider that is very under the radar but it is the spring classics she takes her best results. Rounded out the podium last year in third and also took top 10 finishes at Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Omloop van het Hageland. Unable to match the pure sprinters on the flat but the uphill finish puts her in contention. Without a strong team compared to a number of other favourites.

Elena Cecchini

Reigning Italian Champion and rising star got her start on the track but started to make a name for herself on the road last year. The Italian Championships were her only win last year but Cecchini was constantly around the mark with her most impressive result second at the Tour of Chongming Island. The uphill finish suits her so don't be surprised to see her standing on the podium. Finished sixth as part of the main chase group at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in a sign her form is good.

Kelly Druyts

2014 Scratch Race World Champion could prove to be a wildcard. Generally rides a reduced road season due to track commitments but when riding on the road is normally around the mark. A strong sprinter and the classics is where she normally picks up her results. Took stage wins at Trophée d'Or Féminin and Boels Rental Ladies Tour.

Roxane Fournier

23 year old Fournier is a name to watch this season. Has taken a couple of wins over the years normally in smaller French races. Her second in a stage and fourth overall at the Tour of Chongming Island last year stands out as her biggest result to date and a sign of her speed. Her first race of the year was the Tour of Qatar where she finished fourth on the final stage bunch sprint in a sign of good form.

Amy Pieters

With Kirsten Wild having left the team and rising start and dual junior World Champion Lucy Garner not racing Pieters has an opportunity for herself. The 23 year old had her best season to date last year picking up a stage win at the Tour of Qatar and Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Top 10 here last year and while didn't quite manage to defend her title at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, finished in the top 10.

Lucy Martin

Go back to 2012 and Lucy Martin was an Olympian and rising star of British cycling. Two issues with illness and injury and issues with teams have not dented her enthusiasm and 2015 sees a focused Martin ready to get back to her best. A strong rider with a quick finish, if she can re-find form of old don't be surprised to see her regularly in the top 10 and challenging for the podium.

Other names to watch: Jessie Daams, Vera Koedooder, Roxane Fournier, Aude Biannic, Maaike Polspoel, Floortje Mackaij, Tatiana Guderzo, Sara Olsson, Jacqueline Hahn, Kendall Ryan, Coryn Rivera and Maura Kinsella.
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