Chantal Blaak won Le Samyn last year in a nail-biting finale. A strong six-rider breakaway, including Megan Guarnier, had a one minute advantage over a fast-chasing peloton at the five kilometre mark. Six hundred metres from the finish, the peloton caught the break. Coming off the wheel of Ellen van Dijk, Blaak sprinted to victory.
“I had a great lead-out from Ellen,” Blaak recalled. “It was just before the finish that we came together for the bunch sprint.”
“It was a really important win for me,” she added. “In Nieuwsbald, I was already good and then I was fourth there. We were a little disappointed last year after Nieuwsblad because we got second, third and fourth when we wanted to win. If you win a couple days after another race, it gives a lot of confidence back to the team.”
The defending champion will stand on the start line in Quaregnon on Wednesday alongside a strong Boels-Dolmans squad that incudes Karol-Ann Canuel, Demi de Jong, Nikki Harris and Christine Majerus. The 112-kilometre race features 27-kilometres from Quaregnon to Dour followed by five laps of a 17-kilometre circuit.
“It’s not a real classic, but it’s a typical Belgium race,” explained Blaak. “It has a mix of everything. It has cobbles and also cobbled climbs, but it’s not as hard, for example, as Nieuwsblad.”
“We can make it hard,” Blaak added. “The course is hard enough to do that. I think it’s good for the team. For me, because I won last year, I have a lot of confidence.”
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team for Le Samyn:
Chantal Blaak (defending champion)Karol-Ann CanuelDemi de JongNikki HarrisChristine Majerus