Eurosport - Fri, 07 May 23:23:00 2010
Saxo Bank's Alex Rasmussen won stage three at the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque to reclaim the overall lead.
Rasmussen, who won the first stage, outpowered previous leader Danilo Napolitano (Katusha) at the finish in Ypres in unusual fashion as he sprinted to the line without getting out of his saddle.
”Actually, I was dropped in the cross wind close to the finale but I managed to reach the rear end of the pack in the head wind," said Rasmussen. "I simply continued riding and don't stop until I caught the Napolitano's back wheel shortly before the sprint. Here, I just gave it everything I had and it turned out to be enough."
Seven riders - Mathieu Drujon (Caisse d'Epargne), Pierre Cazaux (Française Des Jeux), Kevin Neirynck (Landbouwkrediet), Stijn Neirynck (Topsport Vlaanderen), Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil), Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) and Reinier Honig (Acqua e Sapone) - formed an escape group and led by nearly four minutes at one point before being caught about 20 kilometers before the finish.
Rasmussen conceded that he is likely to lose the leader's jersey on Saturday when the fourth stage runs 181 kilometers from Merville to Cassel.
"I don't think it's realistic to defend the jersey on (Saturday's) stage as it is simply too hilly but naturally I don't give up without a fight."
STAGE TWO REPORT
Danilo Napolitano of Katusha won stage two of the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque after a sprint finish in Auby.
The Italian rider also took the overall lead of the race as time bonuses over the 196.4km trek from Coulogne to Auby saw him overtake stage one winner Alex Rasmussen (Saxo Bank).
Napolitano won the stage, the longest of the race, by outsprinting Juan Jose Haedo (Team Saxo Bank) and Rafaa Chtioui (Acqua & Sapone), after an early three man break of Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne - Schuller), Stéphane Poulhies (Saur - Sojasun) and Cedric Pineau (Roubaix Lille Metropole) was gobbled up with 21km remaining.
"After four second places (this season) I have finally got my moment," Napolitano said afterwards.
"My team did very good work into the last 200 metres, after (teammate Mikhaylo) Khalilov led me out for my sprint. My shape is good at this moment, so I hope to win something else."
STAGE ONE REPORT
Saxo Bank's Alex Rasmussen took early control of the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, by speeding to victory in stage one.
Track specialist Rasmussen edged out Milram's Gerald Ciolek and Belgian Kevin Ista to take the 143.8 kilometre stage from Dunkerque to Bray-Dunes.
"Today's victory was my breakthrough on the road," Rasmussen said.
"To win a stage in this strong peloton is just indescribably awesome. Actually me role was to be JJ's (Haedo) lead-out but I noticed that he was being held back so I went for Ciolek's wheel.
"And as he opened a long sprint I was able to pass him on the final metres. Of course I hope to stay in the lead of the race one more day.
"But it's going to be difficult on the final stages of the race. The stage profiles are uneven like a saw."
First stage - Saturday 2.30pm LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and on the Eurosport Player
Every subsequent stage LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) or British Eurosport 2 (Sky 411 / Virgin 525) and on the Eurosport Player