Florian Sénéchal continued Deceuninck - Quick-Step's peerless dominance on the cobbles at Le Samyn 2019.
The Frenchman was the strongest of the day as he and two team-mates outnumbered rivals in the final 10km of the Belgian one-day race.
Winner of the 2018 edition Niki Terpstra was dangerous in the closing stages, but Quick-Step perfectly utilised numbers at the front to wear down the competition, allowing Sénéchal to take victory in the four-man sprint.
Quick-Step add the win to the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne titles they took at the weekend, as Sénéchal takes the first pro win of his career at 25 years of age.
How it happened
The 2019 edition of the one-day race, taking the peloton through the French-speaking region of Belgium, was run over 200km from Quaregnon to Dour.
A relentless parcours featured a dozen short and sharp climbs and handful of cobbled stretches.
Winner of the 2018 and 2016 editions Niki Terpstra, now moved to Direct Energie from Quick-Step, was the most significant name on the start list.
A breakaway of three finally formed 70km into the race, consisting of Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Gianni Marchand (Cibel-Cebon) and Tom Dernies (Roubaix Lille Métropole).
The trio were caught within 80km of the finish, as another three sprung clear.
Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Stan Dewulf (Lotto-Soudal) and Loic Vliegen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) were able to pull out a 30-second advantage, but the peloton were determined not to let the new breakaway go clear.
The front three were quickly caught as the bunch split into pieces due to the high pace with 60km left to race.
Quick-Step’s Peter Sierry and Aimé De Gendt from Wanty-Groupe Gobert took advantage of the chaos and attacked off the front, pulling out a 20 second advantage as the peloton came back together 160km into the race.
Ag2r’s Clément Venturini decided it was time to move and clipped off the front of the peloton, hopping over traffic islands and clipping corners in a daredevil bid to gain an advantage over the bunch.
But he was quickly wound back in, and the race settled into the old rhythm with the two escapees 16 seconds clear.
Another attacked followed, with five more riders joining Serry and De Gendt, including Tim Declercq from Quick-Step, Stijn Vandenbergh (Ag2r), and Rémy Mertz from Lotto-Soudal.
Crashes in the bunch twinned with attacks from the front once again tore the race to pieces.
Terpstra was able to bridge across with a handful of others who made it to the front of the race, making it a group of 10.
But the reigning champion was outnumbered by his former Quick-Step team-mates who had three men at the head with 11km to ride.
The 10-man breakaway held an advantage of 24 seconds over those left chasing, as Quick-Step utilised their numbers by sending Sénéchal to attack Terpstra.
The Frenchman wasn’t able to break Terpstra, but the front group’s advantage extended to 45 seconds, making it clear the winner would be one of those riders.
Sénéchal went deep again on the final cobbled stretch 3km from the finish, with only Lars Boom (Roompot-Charles) and Terpstra able to follow the attack.
But chasing riders from the decisive move were able to catch back on to the Terpstra group, making it five at the front.
Declercq waited with the front riders, before unleashing a huge acceleration at 1km with no one willing to chase.
He exploded in the final metres as the chasers opened their sprint to take him, as Sénéchal overpowered Terpstra and Boom to take the victory.
Le Samyn 2019: Quaregnon to Dour (200km
1. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, in 4-38-20
2. Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
3. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie
4. Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-Charles, all at same time
5. Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 1 second
6. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Ag2r La Mondiale, at same time
7. Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 6 secs
8. Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Charles, at 8 secs
9. Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles, at 14 secs
10. Rémy Mertz (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 19 secs
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