Martin Elmiger wins fourth stage in Four Days of Dunkerque
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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Martin Elmiger wins fourth stage in Four Days of Dunkerque

by Bjorn Haake at 10:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Four Days of Dunkirk

Martin Elmiger chose the right moment two kilometers from the line to escape a four-man group to win the fourth stage of the Four Days of Dunkerque. The four men were about to be caught by a counter move, from which Roi Costa emerged. But the Portuguese rider left it too late and could only manage second place, behind Elmiger. The latter took over the lead in the general classification.

The race started with a bang, as race leader Alex Rasmussen abandoned with less than half the distance completed. This should not take away any creibility from Elmiger, who won and took over the lead because he made the right choices, despite the difficult circumstances. "That was really an exhausting course, very tough and sometimes even dangerous with the wet cobbles," the Swiss rider said after the race.

"I am extremely pleased with this win, since I wasn't on my best form today. I rode in the front group, but the thought of winning never crossed my mind." With the difficult uphills in Cassel, Elmiger rode aggressively in the end and set the decisive move close to the end. "I tried to go all out in the last hill and then I saw that nobody was on my wheel."

Elmiger's director was a bit surprised with the outcome. "Martin Elmiger only replaced Vladimir Efimkin," Gilles Mas said. Efimkin is suffering from back problems. "The beginning of the stage was difficult. Several of our riders were dropped and subsequently abandoned the race."

Mas was quite happy for Elmiger, who only had came in last minute  to help the team. "He showed to everyone that you need to stay strong in the difficult parts of the race and never give up. This evening we will really savor this win."

Breaks and counters

The peloton kept a tight eye on any escapees in the first hour of racing, but Jeróme Coppel (Saur – Sojasun) managed to use a descent to slip away and quickly build a lead of 45 seconds. The gap held steady and after 65km a twelve-man counter joined Coppel on the front. Coppel himself couldn't stay in the group, as the peloton closed the gap to 20 seconds.

Before the first KOM, three riders escaped from the front group: Vincent Jerome (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Sep Vanmarcke (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Imanol Erviti Ollo (Caisse d'Epargne). Vanmarcke took the KOM with five laps to go, while the gap opened up to 1'05. The Belgian also took the second KOM, as the peloton dropped back further.

Clément Lhotellerie (Roubaix Lille Metropole) decided to leave the bunch and try to bridge up to the leading trio. He reached them just as Vanmarcke took the third KOM, with 38km to go. The peloton hadn't given up yet and halved its deficit to two minutes. When Vanmarcke took his fourth KOM, the gap to the bunch was less than a minute.

With 30km to go, a 15-man group countered and reached the front quartet after a chase over half a dozen kilometers. The only rider from the four front runners who managed to escape the catch was Erviti, with a timely attack just before the catch. Six riders countered and joined Erviti, as the entered the final lap of 14km.

The seven men lost rider after rider and only Anthony Geslin, Martin Elmiger, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Erviti were left with five km to go, 18 seconds ahead of a 15-man chase group.

With two kilometers to go, the gap was only seven seconds, so Elmiger decided to go by himself.

The final stage tomorrow runs from Ardres to Dunkerque, over a distance of 179.5 kilometers.


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