4 Jours de Dunkerque: Arnaud Démare sprints into the lead in opening stage
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

4 Jours de Dunkerque: Arnaud Démare sprints into the lead in opening stage

by Ben Atkins at 10:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Four Days of Dunkirk
Former under-23 World champion led out by FDJ to take May’s first pink jersey

arnaud demareArnaud Démare (FDJ) sprinted to victory in the opening stage of the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, between Dunkerque and Courrières, to take the first pink leader’s jersey of the race. The French, former under-23 World champion, was led into the final metres by a powerful leadout from his FDJ team and, although he came under challenge from Kenny van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM) easily managed to win the race to the line.

Van Hummel, who had been the first rider to open up his sprint from Démare’s wheel, found himself overtaken by a fast finishing Ramon Sinkeldam (Argos-Shimano), but the 24-year-old Dutchman had left it too late to catch Démare.

The 155.1km stage’s main break came from Tim Mertens (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Julien Duval (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Robert Bush (La Pomme Marseille), who escaped in the very first kilometre of the race. They quickly built a lead of up to 5’50”, but were quickly pegged back to four minutes by the FDJ team at the head of the peloton.

The threesome was still four minutes clear at the halfway point of the stage, with Duval taking the points over both of the stage’s classified climbs, but then the gap began to fall steadily under the impetus of FDJ. With 50km to go it was less than a minute and a half and, as the three riders began to look over their shoulders, this began to tumble even quicker.

At the 40km point the breakaway’s lead was less than 50 seconds, when the peloton sat up a little so as not to catch it too soon. It was allowed to grow back up to almost 1’20” before FDJ began to lift the pace again, as Europcar and several other teams began to move up.

At the 30km to go point it was down to 23 seconds, and Mertens, Duval and Bush were caught with just under 28km to go. The counterattacks began immediately, but FDJ refused to let anybody get away and the peloton was all together as it crossed the finish line with 25.4km to go, to start two laps of the 12.7km circuit.

Europcar, Cofidis and AG2R La Mondiale all moved forward to challenge FDJ at the intermediate sprint in Henin-Beaumont, with 22.9km to go, with the bonus seconds taken by Adrien Petit (Cofidis) in a somewhat chaotic sprint.

This was followed by a counterattack from Yohann Gène (Europcar), Clint Avery (Champion System) and Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale), with Anthony Geslin (FDJ) policing the group. Julien El Fares (Sojasun) managed to jump across before it could get too far but, with only four of the five riders working, they were soon closed down with 18km to go.

Champion System then took control of the peloton and led it across the line for the penultimate time with 12.7km to go.

Garmin-Sharp was the next team to try to take the lead, but FDJ was not keen to give up its control of the race and the peloton widened into the final ten kilometres as several teams tried to assert themselves. As the road narrowed through Henin-Beaumont again it was BigMat-Auber 93 that came out in front, with the others lined up behind it.

FDJ then took over again with seven kilometres to go, keeping the pace high, but could do nothing to prevent Rudy Kowalsky (Roubaix-Lille Métropole) from escaping. The rider in orange was only able to get a few metres clear, however, before being calmly shut down by the white and blue ProTeam.

Into the final three kilometres Vacansoleil-DCM surged forward, muscling FDJ off the front; Argos-Shimano and Garmin-Sharp were also moving forward as the last kilometre approached.

Vacansoleil-DCM led the race around the final sharp corner, and under the flamme rouge, but the Dutch ProTeam had done too much too soon and FDJ took over into the finishing straight.

Van Hummel was the first to open up his sprint, but Démare launched his own on the opposite side of the road, and the Frenchman easily took the victory as Sinkeldam passed van Hummel before the line.

Result stage 1
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
2. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos-Shimano
3. Kenny van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
4. Benoit Drujon (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93
5. Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille
6. Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
8. Benjamin Giraud (Fra) La Pomme Marseille
9. Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar
10. Fabian Schnaidt (Ger) Champion System

Standings after stage 1
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
2. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos-Shimano @ 4s
3. Tim Mertens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise @ 5s
4. Kenny van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM @ 6s
5. Julien Duval (Fra) Roubaix-Lille Métropole
6. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis @ 7s
7. Mickaël Delage (Fra) FDJ @ 8s
8. Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis @ 9s
9. Benoit Drujon (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93 @ 10s
10. Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille


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