Team Sky’s British contingent put on a good show in Wednesday Le Samyn in Belgium, with Luke Rowe playing an active role in the day’s key escape group and Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard make a run for it in a late breakaway.
Despite Sky’s best efforts, however, the race came back together in the final two kilometres. Russian Alexei Tsatevich (Katusha) chose his moment to launch an attack with Sebastien Chavanel (Europcar) in the last kilometre. As Chavanel faded, Tsatevich kept up the momentum to come home safely ahead of Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Adrien Petit (Cofidis). It’s 23-year-old Tsatevich’s first major victory.
Rowe had been in a three-man group containing Thomas Sprengers (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Elias Van Breussegem (Doltcini-Flanders), but was left to his own devices after his companions dropped back as the FDJ-led peloton picked up the pace behind him.
When Rowe was caught with 12 kilometres to go, both Thomas and Stannard immediately instigated at attack, alongside Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN-Qhubeka) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM). Thomas then struck out alone, but he too was caught with just two kilometres to go.
Though ultimately fruitless, Thomas’s move shows once again that he is in good shape after finishing fourth in Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and taking a stage of the Tour Down Under back in January. The Welshman is shaping up to be one of the riders to watch during the Spring Classics in March.
Britain’s top finisher didn’t come from Sky but from NetApp-Endura, with Scott Thwaites scooping seventh place for the Anglo-German outfit.
Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon) took a solo win in the women’s edition of Le Samyn earlier in the day, with Shelley Olds (Tibco) in second and Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) in third.
Alexei Tsatevich wins Le Samyn
Luke Rowe goes solo