Le Samyn is a great race to watch. Often very open and often influenced by the wind. There has been a slight change in the route but nothing very important. I have enjoyed the race the last two seasons and I’m looking forwards to the third.
The circuit is 26.7 km long and they do it 3.5 times. It has four cobbled sections. Only two of them are hard, the long 1.6 km cobbled sector is in very good condition.
Pavé des Nonnettes
Pavés rue de Wihéries
It is slightly uphill, but nothing too hard for the sprinters.
Unfortunately for the riders wanting an open race, we have 3 m/s winds from the south. It will be 8 degrees C and cloudy too.
How will the race unfold?
We have some top sprinters here in Merlier and Jakobsen. Both teams have options to attack too, but I think Quick-Step should put their eggs in Jakobsen’s basket. Unfortunately for them, that means we have a lot of teams who will not want a sprint. Given it is two of the strongest teams here, it will be a joy to watch.
The possibility to fool the sprinters will come for the likes of Naesen, Aime de Gendt (2nd here in 2020 + 2019), Taco van der Hoorn, Campenaerts, Alex Kirsch and Benjamin Declerq. There are plenty of riders who do very well here every year. I think Quick-Step will go all-in for Jakobsen but Alpecin-Fenix might go on the attack too.
Jakobsen is the fastest man here. It is clear to me all their efforts will be pulled into making him take another win this season. They do not bring their A-team. A lot of youngsters here.
Merlier is by far the second-fastest. I like the team of Alpecin-Fenix. Dries de Bondt and Van Keirsbulck are both good options to follow attacks. Merlier won here last year with MvdP pulling with a broken handlebar.
Hofstetter is in good shape. He won in 2020 and was fifth in 2021. After his podium at KBK, I think he will be up there tomorrow too.
Trentin is flying. Very active in both OHN and KBK. He does not want a bunch sprint, he knows he will not win. From a smaller group lies his chance.
Tiller was second here last year. He was very good in the opening weekend but I doubt he wants to go the line with either Merlier and Jakobsen if he can avoid it.
Campenaerts had a great ride in OHN. He was very active here last year and I think he has only improved on the cobblestones. He will make a move.
Pasqualon was fantastic in OHN. He was great on the Muur and Bosberg. He was third here last season, something that will be difficult to improve.
Arnaud de Lie will wait in the bunch while Lotto most likely will be attacking all fronts. I’m looking forward to seeing him sprint against the fastest in the world.
Naesen had a good opening weekend too. He missed the move in KBK, but he should be one of the strongest here, on paper.
Who will win?
In my book, the favorites are Jakobsen and Merlier. However, I do not think a lot of riders will want to go to the line with them.
I will go with a bit of a surprise for some, Rasmus Tiller. With a question mark hanging over Alpecin-Fenix, a B-team from Quick-Step – I do think we will see a group posing big threat. He was second here last year, had a good race in Etoile de Besseges and did well in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad too.