Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) made it two out of two when he won his second consecutive stage at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque today. Demare beat Jonas Alhstrand (Giant-Shimano) into 2nd with Tom van Asbroeck (Topsport-Vlaanderen) taking 3rd place. Gerald Ciolek was again the highest placed rider for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, the German sprinted to 11th place on the stage.
Once again the weather made sure it would not be a conventional day of racing which would normally see an all day break being reeled in just before the finish. The howling wind and pouring rain coupled with 3 cobbled sectors ensured the peloton was battered and bruised to the point where only the strongest would survive. This was clearly the case as with 20km to go, only 40 riders were left at the front of the race.
The MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders had quite a battle today as the team had no less than 8 crashes and 3 bike changes during the stage. Adrien Niyonshuti had one of the worst crashes as the Rwandan rider had some really deep cuts on his legs and arms, luckily Niyonshuti was still able to continue and finish the stage. The most unfortunate though would be Andreas Stauff and Martin Reimer who would both make the final selection of 40 riders that contested the sprint finish but Stauff came unstuck on the final cobble sector with 20km to go and Reimer then also hit the deck with 3km to go. Ciolek also crashed early on in the stage but fought valiantly all day to still make the finale.
Directuer Sportif – Michel Cornelisse
Today Ciolek finished 11th and moves to 9th overall. There was a lot of wind, rain and crashes today that made the race very hard. There were also 3 long cobbled sectors, sections of 2km’s. We really didn’t have much luck today because the team were fighting really hard but almost everybody crashed today. With 20km to go we had 3 riders in the front group but then Stauff crashed on the last cobble sector and Reimer crashed with 3km to go. Ciolek crashed early in the race so he had done well to still be there for the final. He had to do the sprint alone and ended 11th, after a day like today that is a good result for us.
Rider – Martin Reimer
The race was really hard with a lot of wind and rain. We didn’t have much luck today either. 3km’s from the start a motorbike crashed into 4 of our riders including myself. As the speed picked up the race split into many small groups. I was able to make it into the front and Andy and Gerald rode very strongly to bridge up to the front group a little bit after. The cobbles were really rough and Andy crashed on the last cobble section. Then Gerald and I were alone and i tried to help him in the final but then i crashed with 2.5km to go, i have a swollen hip and knee but i think i will be okay for tomorrow.
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)