In the first stage of Les 4 jours de Dunkerque Jens Debusschere sprinted to his first victory of the season and he will wear the leader’s jersey tomorrow. Frederik Frison was involved in a big crash and had to abandon the race. The X-rays showed that Frederik broke his pelvis.
There was a clear blue sky and a nice summer breese above the northern French roads, but there was no time to loose. At least that was what Cabot, Irvine and Chetout thought, because these three riders took off right from the start in Dunkerque. The peloton didn’t bother too much and gave the trio a nine minutes maximum lead. After two hours of racing the peloton accelerated and chased down the three escapees. The last two minutes disappeared like snow in the sun and at thirty kilometres from the finish the pack was complete again. It seemed that the riders would have to sprint for the victory in a bunch sprint but a big crash around twenty kilometres from the finish caused some serious damage.
Almost everyone from Lotto Soudal escaped the big crash thanks to a position at the front of the bunch. A group of almost fifty riders could evade the crash and rode to the finish. The Lotto Soudal riders controlled the last five kilometres and guided Jens Debusschere well into the last metres where Jens finished the job. Sarreau finished second, Venturini became third.
Jens Debusschere: “I felt good but the stage was tougher than predicted. The four cobblestone sections from Paris-Roubaix added some more punch, but I was very confident because the legs were good. The stage went as expected. There was a small group in front of the race and the bunch had to chase. Unfortunately the big crash decided the stage. We were well-positioned at the front of the bunch so we almost all evaded the crash. It’s sad to hear that Frederik Frison crashed hard and broke his pelvis. I wish him a speedy recovery.”
“I have no idea what happened because there was no wind and we rode on a wide road. Probably somebody did a wrong manoeuvre, but I didn’t see it. A group of around forty riders survived the crash and we were with seven. Everybody started looking at us. We stayed calm and took our responsibility at the right time. Petit started the sprint from a long way out which was ideal for me. I used him as an aim an won the stage. I had a lot of confidence that I would take it home. “
In stage four of the Giro d’Italia the riders had to cover an almost mythical climb. The finish lay halfway the Etna at 1.892 metres altitude. A small group was supposed to be doomed to stay ahead until the finish but Brutt, van Rensburg, Alafaci and Polanc wanted to prove otherwise. In a stage without too many fireworks from the GC favourites the Slovene started the Etna climb solo and won the stage after being almost 160 kilometres in the attack. Bob Jungels took over the pink jersey from Gaviria. André Greipel maintained his points jersey. Tomorrow there’s another sprint opportunity for Greipel.