Rasmussen reclaims race lead with another sprint win in Dunkerque
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Rasmussen reclaims race lead with another sprint win in Dunkerque

by Conal Andrews at 12:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Four Days of Dunkirk
Future Classics star finds success

Sprinting in to take his second stage win in three days, Danish track specialist Alex Rasmussen reclaimed the race lead in the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque this afternoon.

The Team Saxo Bank rider outsped Danilo Napolitano (Katusha), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d’Epargne), Rafai Chtioui (Acqua & Sapone) and the rest of the main bunch into Ypres. It was his fourth race win of the year, and sees him reclaim the race lead from Napolitano, who ends the day one second back.

It required quite a bit of effort on his part, and not only in the final push to the line. “I was dropped in the cross wind close to the finale but I managed to reach the rear end of the pack in the head wind,” he said after the stage. “I simply continued riding and don't stop until I caught Napolitano’s back wheel shortly before the sprint. Here, I just gave it everything I had and it turned out to be enough.”

Although it’s very much a French race, today’s 189 kilometre stage was held in Belgium and saw the riders cross the Kemmelberg three times.

Napolitano had started the day on a good note when he took the first bonus sprint, but the remaining intermediate seconds that were up for grabs were mopped up by a seven-man break which raced clear. Those present were Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur - Sojasun), Kevin Neirynck (Landbouwkrediet), Stijn Neirynck (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator), Mathieu Drujon (Caisse d'Epargne), Pierre Cazaux (Française Des Jeux) Reinier Honig (Acqua & Sapone) and Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team), with Neirynck grabbing the first two primes on the Kemmelberg and Drujon twice picking up intermediate sprints in De Klijte. Cazaux took the third gallop.

Affected by attacks from riders such as Greg Van Avermaet (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Jaroslaw Marycz (Saxo Bank), the gap started falling from a high of almost four minutes. Engoulvent realised that the break was threatened and clipped away, but was ultimately hauled back with less than a kilometre to go. Rasmussen then proved quickest of the ensuing bunch gallop, reclaiming the pink leader’s jersey.

He accepts that he is likely to lose it again on tomorrow’s 181.3 kilometre race from Merville to Cassel, but will do his utmost to hang on. “I don't think it's realistic to defend the jersey on tomorrow's stage as it is simply too hilly, but naturally I don't give up without a fight,” he said.

Director sportif Bradley McGee also envisages a difficult day in the saddle. “Tomorrow's stage is very tough and it will come down to who's strongest on the long course,” he said. Whatever happens, though, he’s clearly impressed with the Danish rider, even if he does tend to lost some energy due to not being in the right place all the time.

“It was another day with a lot of wind which made the course even more difficult,” he said. “Alex is absolutely the strongest sprinter here. Having said that, he still has a lot to learn about positioning himself and we have to keep focusing on getting better.”

The fact that Rasmussen has room for improvement will worry his rivals, who have been able to see just how quick he already is.


4 Jours de Dunkerque, France (2.HC, May 5- 9) :

May 7, Stage 3: Menin – Ypres:

1, Alex Rasmussen (Team Saxo Bank) 189 kilometres in 4 hours 22 mins 46 secs
2, Danilo Napolitano (Team Katusha)
3, Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse d'Epargne)
4, Rafaâ Chtioui (Acqua & Sapone)
5, Nikolas Maes (Quick Step)
6, Jean-Luc Delpech (Bretagne – Schuller)
7, Gerald Ciolek (Team Milram)
8, Klaas Lodewyck (Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator)
9, Loyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale)
10, Kevin Ista (Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne) all same time

General classification after stage 3:

1, Alex Rasmussen (Team Saxo Bank) 12 hours 41 mins 3 secs
2, Danilo Napolitano (Team Katusha) at 1 sec
3, Cédric Pineau (Roubaix Lille Metropole) at 11 secs
4, Gerald Ciolek (Team Milram) at 14 secs
5, Juan Jose Haedo (Team Saxo Bank)
6, Mathieu Drujon (Caisse d'Epargne)
7, Rony Martias (Saur – Sojasun) all same time
8, Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse d'Epargne) at 16 secs
9, Rafaâ Chtioui (Acqua & Sapone)
10, Kevin Ista (Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne) both same time



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