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"If we are not in front, the race is lost. One of us is going to crack. But who? Coquard? Theuns? Gaudin? Myself? I'll take each stage one after the other, with the help of my team that has done very well today. "

Photo: Movistar






07.05.2015 @ 01:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The Paris-Roubaix cobbles, hail and sun, strong winds... The first stage of the 4 Days of Dunkirk took its toll on the peloton and created the first gaps.

" It was very stressful from the start ," Ignas Konovalovas (Team Marseille 13-KTM) tells Directvelo. The Lithuanian is now 3rd in the general classification, 10 seconds behind Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar), winner of the stage and holder of the pink leader's jersey, and 6 seconds behind Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise).
"Fortunately, the cobbles were dry," he added. "But the weather changed every five minutes and the temperature did too. At one point it was 15°. Later it felt like a refrigerator."
The race was decided at 45 km to go, on the Warlaing cobbled when Konovalovas responded to an attack fromDamien Gaudin (AG2R La Mondiale) and Edward Theuns which caused the formation of a small leading group.
The leader of Team Marseille made an attempt to get clear on the last pave in Orchies, less than 2 kilometers from the finish, but without success. "It was a small mistake, I should have attacked on the penultimate sector if I wanted to make a difference," he admitted. Theuns and Coquard joined him and the Lithuanian did most of the work in order to gain as much time as possible.


In the overall standings, Damien Gaudin and Bjorn Thurau (Bora Argon 18) are 23 '' behind Brian Coquard while a group of ten chasers are 36 '' behind.
However, Konovalovas believes that " nothing is decided" in the race that will end on Sunday in the streets of Dunkirk. "There will be a daily risk of echelons," he said. "If we are not in front, the race is lost. One of us is going to crack. But who? Coquard? Theuns? Gaudin? Myself? I'll take each stage one after the other, with the help of my team that has done very well today. "
Having joined Marseille from Team MTN-Qhubeka during the winter, Konovalovas, 29, hopes to continue the series of good results in 2015, after a 3rd place at the Circuit des Ardennes, a 5th place in Classic Sud-Ardèche and Cholet-Pays de Loire.
Long considered a time trial expect (with its win in a TT at the Giro 2009) or a climber (after winning the Ronde de l'Isard 2006), the Lithuanian admits that he likes the Flemish classic. He will find the 4 Jours de Dunkerque wind its strong winds and the five ascents of Mont Cassel scheduled for Saturday, to his liking.



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