After their win at the Tour of Antalya in Turkey, the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team opened their European ‘Low Countries’ campaign with two UCI 1.1 races in Belgium: Le Samyn on Tuesday 3rd March and the GP Jean-Pierre Monseré on Sunday 8th, along with the UCI 1.2 Dorpenomloop Rucphen in the Netherlands also on the 8th.
All three races were held on largely flat courses with various amounts of cobbled sector and short hills which are typical for races in this region and they provided great opportunities for the team’s fast-men to demonstrate their sprinting prowess – and demonstrate it they did!
The ‘Le Samyn’ (Memorial Samyn) UCI 1.1 one-day road race was first held in 1968 as the ‘GP Fait-le-Franc’ and was re-named as a tribute to José Samyn, the race’s first winner who tragically died whilst racing in a criterium in Belgium the following year.
The 202km route was the most challenging of the three races and included 20 cobbled sectors plus eight classified climbs totalling 943 metres of vertical gain. The race started in the Walloon town of Quaregnon and headed north-westwards for about 60km before heading back south and concluding with three laps of a 27km finishing circuit with a slight uphill finish in Dour.
As Le Samyn closely follows the opening week-end of the ‘Classics’ season featuring the Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne races, it usually attracts a strong field and this year featured 6 World Teams and 10 Pro Teams as well as 9 leading Continental teams. The start-list included two-time champion Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Énergie), 2015 winner Kris Boeckmans (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and reigning champion Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
The Canyon dhb p/b Soreen riders competing were Jerome Baugnies, Brenton Jones, Jacob Hennessy, Alex Paton, Jacob Scott, Tom Stewart and Andy Tennant. DS was Tim Elverson.
With such a quality field competing, the race plan usually consists of riding as far up the field as possible (which is much more easily said than done) to try and avoid being behind splits that will occur in the peloton due to the pressure of the racing or being caught up in the inevitable crashes that occur on the narrow roads. In such a race of attrition, missing a split or being delayed by a crash can effectively eliminate a sole rider or even a large group.
Scott and Hennessy rode particularly strongly to maintain places up in the top third of the peloton as the parcours and pace of the racing took its toll on the riders. As the peloton approached the finishing circuits with about 85km to go, the remaining five Canyon dhb p/b Soreen riders were caught behind a crash putting paid to their hopes of a good finishing place. Jones, Stewart and Tennant finished with what was the last main group in 83rd, 96th and 98th places respectively, just over 10 minutes behind the winner. Baugnies and Paton were in groups further behind and were classified as DNF.
Meanwhile back up at the sharp-end of the race where the number of riders effectively still in contention had been reduced to 60 or so, the numerous attacks at the front repeatedly broke this peloton into two or three smaller groups that each time managed to regroup. Hennessy (pictured alongside Terpstra) came adrift with about 35km to go with Scott continuing to ride very strongly, maintaining a position in the first or towards the front of the second group. Eventually ‘the elastic snapped’ on an uphill cobbled climb with 15km to go when twelve riders went clear to contest the finish. Scott rode in with the second group in 25th place, just 39 seconds down on the winner Hugo Hofstetter (Israel Start-up Nation). Hennessy who also had a very good ride finished with the third group in 52nd place 4 min 57 sec down.
After the race, Jacob Scott commented…
“I think I was in good condition because I didn’t feel too rough and I positioned myself well all day. It felt alright to be honest, there were just a few moves I could go with in the end and then I messed up on the cobbled sector. It was a big fight going into the second cobbled sector where the (winning) move went. I was a little bit too far behind there maybe. I had a little bit of strength in the end I guess.”
Grote Prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré
The 197km GP Jean-Pierre Monseré was also the first round of the Bingoal Cycling Cup. The cup competition consists of 8 one-day races in Belgium. In each race, the top 15 riders score points with the rider scoring the most points being crowned the Bingoal Cup champion.
Starting in the municipality of Hooglede, the riders passed the finish for the first time after 7.6km and then completed 10 laps of 19km which included two small hills per lap before finishing at Beversesteenweg. The GP Jean-Pierre Monseré race took place in heavy and persistent rain, although these conditions were better than the storms experienced in 2019 which caused the race to be cancelled and the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team to return home without a wheel being turned in anger.
The field included three World Teams, six Pro Teams and 13 Continental teams and included notable sprinters such as Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) who had already taken stage wins at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Volta ao Algarve in 2020, as well as two stages of the Vuelta a España in 2019.
Canyon dhb p/b Soreen were represented by Ryan Christensen, Jacob Hennessy, Jacob Scott, Rob Scott, Tom Stewart and Rory Townsend with an ailing Jerome Baugnies pulling out at late notice. The DS was Simon Holt.
To some extent the race was less hectic than Le Samyn earlier in the week with a break of two riders going away from an initial field of 144 riders.
The following peloton of around 100 riders largely stayed intact under the pace-setting of the Deceuninck-Quick Step team who were clearly riding for their sprinter and not letting the break gain too much of an advantage. The main objective for the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen riders was again to try and ride up the field and remain in contention for a likely bunch finishing sprint.
Following a great effort by Jacob Scott in the final 1.5km to take Townsend towards the head of the field, Townsend was the team’s most successful sprinter of the day showing strongly in the final gallop and securing 17th place behind the favourite Jakobsen. Christensen and Rob Scott maintained good positions finishing in the same time as the winner in 34th and 55th places respectively. After his lead-out effort, Jacob Scott finished 26 secs down in 84th place. Stewart was 99th at 2 min 20 sec with an under-the-weather Hennessy pulling out.
The Dorpenomloop Rucphen was the opening round of the Holland Cup for 2020, a series of 4 races where Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team rider, Alex Richardson took the overall individual win in 2019. Riders in each race score both individual and team points (team points being based on the first three riders in each team) with the individual and team scoring the most points in the series being declared the overall winner.
The 200km race was run on a new course for 2020 which consisted of three large loops and three smaller loops which traversed through a typical Brabant landscape: flat and wooded with a variety of wide and narrow roads in the municipality of Rucphen with a finale in and around Sint Willebrord.
As well as an updated course, the weather was much improved over the 2019 edition which was abandoned early-on into the race due to the riders being blown off the course.
The field consisted of two UCI Pro Teams, a Great Britain national team and a variety of UCI Continental and non-Continental teams.
The seven Canyon dhb p/b Soreen riders were Matt Bostock, Alex Colman, Brenton Jones, Callum Macleod, Alex Paton, Andy Tennant and making his debut, Thomas Mein. DS was Tim Elverson.
Peter Schulting (VolkerWessels-Merckx) led solo for an extended period with a lead of up to one minute but was caught with 45km to go. For the remainder of the race there were a number of threatening moves of up to eight riders taking a lead approaching one minute. With Canyon dhb p/b Soreen having performed their share of chasing down attacking moves, it was the Riwal Readynez and Metec-TKH teams who drove the peloton onwards to mop up what looked to be the final attackers with 16km to go.
With 12km to go, four of the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen riders moved towards the front of the peloton with Tennant being particularly prominent.
With 8km to go Tim Bierkens (WV De Ijsselstreek) made a solo bid for glory and held on until a strong looking SEG Racing Academy unit brought him back with just 1.7km left. Tennant wound up the pace for his team’s sprinters with Jones and Bostock closely tucked in behind. As the leaders rounded the final left-hand bend it was Jones who powered onwards towards the line, however a late acceleration by David Dekker (SEG Racing Academy) denied Jones victory by less than a wheel. Bostock finished a fine 3rd with Tennant coming in 16th following his admirable lead-out.
After their teamwork duties Paton finished 59th 10 sec adrift, Colman 75th at 52 sec, Macleod 89th at 3 min 14 sec and Mein DNF.
In addition to Jones and Bostock taking second and third places in the Holland Cup individual standings, with Tennant’s 16th place the team standings lead went to Canyon dhb p/b Soreen with SEG Racing Academy in second and Tarteletto-Isorex in third.
A fantastic start to the Holland Cup and the season opening races for the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen team!
At the post-race interviews Jones commented…
“It’s not a bad result, there are a lot of strong teams here. We did a good job getting two on the podium and it’s still early in the season.”
“I thought we had it. It was a perfect lead-out so it’s a bit disappointing (not to win).”
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman.
9, 10, 11 – @hollandcupcc @huizerphotography