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2012 winner Engoulvent continues his love story with the Four Days of Dunkirk by taking a close breakaway win on the final stage while Demare wins the bunch sprint and takes the overall for the second year in a row

Photo: Sirotti

4 JOURS DE DUNKERQUE

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ARNAUD DEMARE

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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GEDIMINAS BAGDONAS

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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JIMMY ENGOULVENT

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MICHAEL VALGREN

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SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

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11.05.2014 @ 18:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

2012 winner Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) continued his love story with the Four Days of Dunkirk when he took a surprise breakaway win in today's final, flat stage of the race. Having joined an early 5-rider break, he dug deep to hold off the peloton in the finale and escaped on his own inside the final kilometre to claim the win. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) won the bunch sprint for fifth 12 seconds later and so secured his second consecutive victory in the 5-day race.

 

Two year ago Jimmy Engoulvent won the Four Days of Dunkirk overall but this year he has not been in the GC mix. Already on the opening day he was caught out in the crosswinds and instead he had to focus on stage wins.

 

Having already been on the attack on stage 2, the new Europcar rider decided to hit out on what seemed to be an impossible missing when he joined the early break in today's flat final stage of the race. Ending with laps on a flat finishing circuit in Dunkirk, the stage usually comes down to a bunch sprint and the odds were certainly against the 5 attackers.

 

Together with the Cofidis duo of Julien Fouchard and Romain Zingle, Wouter Mol (Veranclassic) and Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r), Engoulvent decided to try to defy the odds and the five riders worked excellently together as they covered one lap after each other in Dunkirk. Behind, IAM and Giant-Shimano were chasing as hard as they could but the gap was coming down way too slowly.

 

When they entered the final lap of the 6.8km circuit, they were still around 50 seconds ahead and it seemed that they would have  a good chance of staying away if they could continue their collaboration. They did really well to do so and as Giant-Shimano had now disappeared, it seemed that IAM were losing the battle.

 

FDJ had decided to play it cool but with 4km to go, they decided to go for a third stage win with overall leader Arnaud Demare. Despite their hard work, however, the gap was still coming down too slowly.

 

Inside the final 2km, the break split in two when Zingle and Engoulvent took off, making it more likely that they could continue their collaboration. Fouchard fell completely off the pace and was swallowed up by the speeding peloton while the front duo passed the flamme rouge with a solid gap.

 

Engoulvent made a smart move 500m from the line when he moved to the other side of a traffic island that divided the road. While he sprinted down the right hand side of the road, Zingle found himself caught on the other side of the island and he failed to keep up with the French veteran who held on to take a beautiful solo victory.

 

Behind, Demare took a very narrow sprint win for fifth ahead of Matteo Pelucchi (IAM) and even though it wasn't good enough for the stage victory, it was no disaster for the FDJ rider. Demare defended his narrow 6-second lead of Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) and Michael Valgren (Tinkoff-Saxo) and for the second year in a row he was crowned overall winner of the race.

 

Unsurprisingly, Demare also won the points classification while Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix) won the mountains jersey. Demare was also the best young rider while Ag2r was the best team in the race.

 

The French season continues on Friday when the three-day Tour de Picardie offers three flat stages for the sprinters. Demare will be back in action as he takes on the likes of Bryan Coquard and Philippe Gilbert.

 

A flat stage

As usual, the Four Days of Dunkirk ended with a flat stage for the sprinters that ended with 9 laps of a flat 6.8km finishing circuit in Dunkirk. The first part of the 170km stage starting in Saint-Pol-sur-Mer was a bit more hilly and included a single categorized climb but it was expected to be a day for the sprinters.

 

After the very windy first four stages of the race, things were considerably calmer for the final stage and the 104 remaining riders even had dry conditions when they took off for the final stage. After some early attacks, Engoulvent, Fouchard, Zingle, Bagdonas and Mol managed to get clear and they worked great together to build up a solid gap.

 

IAM lead the chase

Yesterday there had been some polemics involving FDJ and IAM as Demare's team had refused to chase down the early break. Today the French squad again stayed in the background until IAM and Giant-Shimano upped the pace.

 

Those two team brought down the gap and things seemed to be under control as it was down to 3.50 with 51km to go. Dominic Klemme (IAM) and Tom Peterson (Giant-Shimano) were some of the riders to do the early work while their sprinters readied themselves for the expected bunch sprint.

 

The gap comes own too slowly

However, the gap only came down very slowly and with 30km to go, it was exactly 3.00. Both IAM and Giant-Shimano were now committing a lot more riders to the chase and strung out the peloton on the tight circuit.

 

However, the escapees continued to work excellently together and with 23km to go, they were still 2.35 ahead. However, it seemed that it would all come to nothing when Bagdonas took off on his own just one kilometre further up the road.

 

Bagdonas is caught

While Bretagne now also lend a hand to the chase in the peloton, the Lithuanian managed to build a 15-second gap to his former companions. They continued to work well together though and 15km from the line, the front quintet was back together.

 

IAM and Giant-Shimano were still giving it their all, with Gustav Larsson taking some massive turns on the front, but when they started the penultimate lap, they were still 1.25 behind. With 9.5km to go, it was down to a minute but Giant had now disappeared from the front.

 

Offredo ups the pace

The Dutch team returned a little later but when Larsson and Johannes Fröhlinger led the peloton onto the final 6.8km lap, they were still 50 seconds behind. That was when FDJ decided to kick into action, with Yoann Offredo taking over on the front, and he even got some help from a Roubaix rider.

 

However, it was all too late for Demare while up ahead the break split in three, with Zingle and Engoulvent taking off and Fouchard falling back to the peloton. The front duo passed the flamme rouge with a 20-second gap over the peloton and were destined to battle it out for the win.

 

500m from the line, Engoulvent made his smart race-winning move to take a solo win ahead of Zingle while Bagdonas beat Mol in the sprint for third. Demare narrowly held off Matteo Pelucchi and Nikias Arndt (Giant-Shimano) in the sprint of the peloton and so could step onto the podium as the overall winner of the race.

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