Iljo Keisse third in brutal Samyn
This year's edition was a carbon-copy of the 2016 one in terms of weather, and saw two Quick-Step Floors riders finish in the top 10.
Four days after completing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Iljo Keisse returned to action at Le Samyn, a 202.2km-long race which had it all: from arduous cobblestones and demanding hills to heavy rain and cold temperatures, which made for a rainy, muddy and grueling edition of Le Samyn. Quick-Step Floors was always in the spotlight on Wednesday afternoon, in the first part of the race chasing the five-man group which enjoyed a three-minute advantage, and later by going out on the attack with several riders.
Jack Bauer, Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns and Iljo Keisse all tried their hand at least once during the race, and in the end it was the 2015 Giro d'Italia stage winner who extricated himself from the reduced peloton and made it into the front group, which took off in the last two laps. Then, with around 30 kilometers left, Alex Kirsch (WB Veranclassic) and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) attacked and got a gap which they maintained until the finish in Dour, where the Belgian won the two-up sprint.
Keisse led the first chasing group across the line a few seconds later, after a race in which he dug deep, taking third at the end of the day and proving once again why he's considered one of the most solid and tenacious riders in the bunch, one who never gives up, regardless of the situation. To round out Quick-Step Floors' strong display under the difficult weather conditions which hit Wallonia Wednesday, Maximilian Schachmann (10th) and Rémi Cavagna (14th) – two neo-pros – completed Le Samyn in the top 15, less than a minute down on the winner.
"We came here for the win, but we are happy with Iljo's third place. He did his best to get a good result and deserves to be on the podium. It was really tough out there, but we were always in the thick of the action; aside from Iljo, we are very happy to have also Max and Rémi, two young neo-pros, up there, after a windy and rainy day with temperatures of 8 degrees, which saw only 45-50 riders arrive at the finish", said sport director Geert Van Bondt.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele