Le Samyn: Meersman 2nd in Select Group Sprint
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Gianni Meersman finished 2nd to Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) in a small group sprint finale at 201.2km Le Samyn on Wednesday. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) was 3rd.
Stijn Vandenbergh entered the final cobbled section with about 3km to go with such a high pace the select small group immediately gained a gap on the rest of the field. The peloton shattered trying to keep up with the speed. The race came down to four Etixx - Quick-Step, two Cofidis, and two Lotto-Soudal riders to decide the race as they kept their advantage upon exiting the cobbles for the final 1.5km of the race.
The final sprint came down to Yves Lampaert leading out Meersman on the left side. But Boeckmans got the jump on the leadout and passed Meersman on the right side. Meersman swung far right and tried to catch Boeckmans, but couldn't before the line.
Etixx - Quick-Step did much of the work on the front the entire day, chasing down breakaways and forcing splits before eventually taking control of the race with 5 riders on the front in the final kilometers before the crucial last cobbled section.
Lampaert finished 5th, and Vandenbergh 7th.
"We did what we planned bringing Gianni to the sprint," Van Slycke said. "The tactic was executed really well. The young guys did a good job the entire day, really big effort for all of them. The last cobblestone sector on the last lap, we forced the action a little bit and we formed the select group of four riders out of eight. Our guys pulled for Gianni and he was there, as was our goal. But every sprint is a different story from the rest of the race. Today Boeckmans was stronger than Gianni. We missed the victory today but the team effort for the race was strong. Now we look for a few opportunities immediately with Driedaggse van West-Vlaanderen."