In Her Own Words: Jessie MacLean Previews Le Samyn

Mon 3 Mar 2014

Three days ago ORICA-AIS kicked started the European season with a podium spot at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. With the first Spring Classics race now in the record books, the Australian based squad is ready to shake things up once again at Le Samyn on Wednesday.

The team will line up in Quaregnon with six of the seven riders from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Emma Johansson, Loes Gunnewijk, Jessie MacLean, Amanda Spratt, Valentina Scandolara and Carlee Taylor. In her own words, Jessie MacLean reviews the course and the team’s objectives.

The race begins with a 30 kilometre loop that leads us onto a 21 kilometre circuit. We complete five circuit laps before contesting the finish. Although the opening lap is shorter than last year, the impact of this change will be small as the real racing typically doesn’t open up until we hit the circuits.

The circuit lap itself is rolling and lumpy. There is a cobbled climb on each lap called the Côte de Montignies sur Roc that is relatively short but at the top it’s quite fast and open for attacks to go.

In contrast to the pan flat Dutch races coming up, Le Samyn is definitely more varied. The nature of the course – lumpy, punchy and exposed to wind – allows a lot more to happen, which in my opinion is more exciting. In comparison to the big Classics races and OHN, Le Samyn is not as hilly or as hard for such long durations. We will certainly suffer a lot but for shorter periods - over and over again.

Le Samyn is fast, aggressive and hard, although I wouldn’t characterize it as a race of attrition. Splits will happen because of the pace and wind, but there are also rolling bits where the peloton will come back together. You constantly have to be attentive and focused because this race has a little bit of everything.

As always, our objective is to win. Last year Emma initiated a chase group to bring back solo rider and eventual winner Ellen Van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon). She ended up in third place from the group she created.

To win the race we need to split the peloton and have numbers in the front. At OHN, we didn’t have numbers, which is highly unusual. The finishing circuits in Le Samyn are more technical, so we not only need to find our way to the front but also find a way to stay there. When moves go, we want to be represented with as many riders as possible so we can play off each other. We need more numbers than at OHN in order to get the win and not just another podium.

On Wednesday, whoever takes the opportunity to go for it will get their chance. Emma has a knack for creating those opportunities, so while we won’t necessarily start the race with her as our clear leader, it’s likely that a scenario in which Emma’s chasing the win will eventuate. Loes and Spratty are also going well. We just reconned the Flanders course and Loes was driving it – and making us all unhappy in the process.

The level of fitness for everybody in the peloton seems to have skyrocketed. It’s awesome to see, although it would be even more awesome if we were all there with them. We’ll get there, but in the meantime it makes the season more open and entertaining.

ORICA-AIS for Le Samyn

Amanda Spratt
Carlee Taylor
Emma Johansson
Jessie MacLean
Loes Gunnewijk
Valentina Scandolara