Johansson Victorious in Le Samyn des Dames
Sweden's Emma Johansson earlier today sprinted to victory in Le Samyn des Dames 2014.
Emma Johansson sprinted to victory in Le Samyn des Dames, thereby securing her first victory of the 2014 season. A dedicated effort from the AIS team set the stage for Johansson to power across the finish line ahead of Ashleigh Moolman (Hitec Products) and Sofie de Vuyst (Futurumshop.no-Zannata).
“It means a lot to the team to win races this way,” a proud Johansson told Roadcycling.com after being celebrated on the podium. “There was a big difference between today and the way we raced last weekend, and it shows that when we race as a team, we can win. Just coming into today, everybody was more prepared and focused. I think that was really important for us.”
Vera Koedooder (Bigla Cycling Team) animated the early action with a solo attack on the opening lap of the 112 kilometer race. The leader entered the finishing circuit in solo fashion with a slim advantage over the field to contest the first of four 21 kilometer loops. By the time the main peloton reached the top of the cobbled Côte de Montignies sur Roc for the first time, Koedooder was back in the bunch.
“We were a little disappointed with our performance on Saturday,” Team AIS sports director Gene Bates explained. “It was good to get second at Het Nieuwsblad, but the team didn’t work together as well as it could have done. Therefore, we had an extra emphasis on teamwork today."
“We know Emma is on good form,” Bates continued. “She wanted to go for the victory, so the plan was to set her up today – either in a breakaway or in a sprint. The uphill finish suited her.”
“The main tactic was to try to get a group up the road,” Johansson explained. “I was saving myself for the last lap. The finish suited me, but I wasn’t completely confident. It’s always a risk coming in with a big group.”
The action heated up on the finishing circuit. Trixi Worrack (Specialized-lululemon) attacked and spent a bit of time ahead of the peloton before her teammate Elise Delzenne and Hitec Product’s Ashleigh Moolman joined the attack. However, the trio's move was short-lived and the peloton, albeit being slightly reduced, had regrouped with three laps remaining.
“When we got to the circuit, we wanted to make the race really hard,” Bates commented and continued "Jessie [MacLean] went on the attack and covered a few moves. We also had Valentina [Scandolara] doing the same. We reserved Spratty [Amanda Spratt] Loes [Gunnewijk] for the middle part of the race. Those two and Carlee [Taylor] were tasked with helping Emma in the final.”
The attacks, counter-attacks, splits and chases continued throughout the final three laps. Solo moves, small groups and a larger group of eight riders all managed to slip the stronghold of the bunch only to be reeled back in prior to them gaining any sort of useful advantage. Always attentive at the head of affairs, Johansson swept up enough points to win the GPM classification en route to the race win.
“The GPM was right at