The first stage of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque was taken out by Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr). The Frenchman was clearly the fastest today as he was able to reel in Romon Sinkeldam (Giant-Shimano) and Yannick Martinez (Europcar) over the final few meters and then was still able to put 2 bike lengths into 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Gerald Ciolek would place 39th on the stage for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung.
The racing would be a fight from the gun as the wind would batter the riders from km zero. 3 riders would initially go clear but as the wind continued to blow, the peloton started to break up into numerous groups on the road. Ciolek made it it into the front group of around 40 riders that would then pile on the pressure at the head of the race, while Martin Wesemann (Team MTN-Qhubeka) would be in the 2nd group of 20 odd riders.
As a handful of riders continued to try their luck by jumping away from the leading group, FDJ.fr would set a tempo that never allowed any break all that much freedom. Wesemann and his group kept the chase on from behind though and with 25km to go they were able to make the junction, swelling the lead group to 70 riders. Wesemann did a good job keeping Ciolek out of the wind until 4km to go when the German then moved on to the train of IAM Cycling. FDJ.fr would prove to be the strongest team on the day though as they were able to control the race all the way home and deliver Demare to the the line perfectly.
Some unfortunate news for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung was that Kristian Sbaragli had to abandon the race after suffering with some pain in his leg.
Directuer Sportif – Michel Cornelisse
Today there was a lot of wind which made the race tough. Ciolek was really good today and made it to the first group, Wesemann was also in the first group at the end which was good. The only problem came in the final corner when Ciolek was in a bad position so unfortunatley he could not do a good sprint.
Rider – Martin Wesemann
Stage 1 – Dunkerque > Coudekerque-Branche (163km)
Stage 2 – Hazebrouck > Orchies (162km)
Stage 3 – Furges > Calais (182km)
Stage 4 – Ardres > Licques (189km)
Stage 5 – Saint-Pol sur Mer > Dunkerque (170km)
Staff: Michel Cornelisse (Directeur Sportif), Jens Zemke (Directuer Sportif), Hagen Bernutz (Soigneur), Olaf Warko (Soigneur), Daniele Nieri (Mechanic), Werrner Lenk (Mechanic), Stevie Christaens (Mechanic)