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After three stages of the Four Days of Dunkirk it is perhaps no surprise to learn that Team CSC's debutant Linus Gerdemann was recommended to the team by Jens Voigt. On stage one, his first day in the pro peloton, Gerdemann attacked in Voigt-like fashion only to be caught with fellow escapee Koos Moerenhout just 4km from the line, and today the 22-year-old German was at it again, only this time he ended the day in the leader's pink jersey - one of no less than three he now holds.
Today's was a hilly stage that finished on the windswept headland of Cap Blanc Nez, overlooking the English Channel. When three breakaway riders - Jimmy Engoulvent, Damien Nazon and Angel Castresana - were reeled in 15km from the finish, Christophe Moreau immediately attacked and was quickly joined by nine other riders, including Gerdemann.
Five kilometres later Thomas Voeckler attacked and nobody went with the French champion, who soloed away to victory by 16 seconds. Ruggero Marzoli led in the rest of the breakaway, just ahead of Pierrick Fedrigo, with Gerdemann a couple more places back. Several other contenders, including stage one winner Thor Hushovd and race leader Philippe Gilbert were part of a big group that came in 48 seconds behind Voeckler.
"I have three jerseys, I have three jerseys," Gerdemann kept saying after he had been on the podium three times, as if he was trying to convince himself it was real and not just a dream.
"Christophe Moreau (Crdit Agricole) launched an attack on the final climb and the 10 riders opened up a nice gap on the peloton. Voeckler escaped towards the end, but he was no threat in the GC," said CSC sports director Kim Andersen, whose team of six riders have an average age of just 22.5 years.
Tomorrow's stage on a tough circuit around Boulogne including half a dozen climbs of Mont Lambert should split the leading contenders. The performances of French riders will be carefully noted as the circuit will play host to the national championship next month.
Stage 3, Livin-Cap Blanc Nez
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 194km in 4.55.04 (39.37kph)
2 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 0.16
3 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
4 Andy Schleck (Lux) CSC
5 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) CSC
6 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Ag2r
7 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crdit Agricole
8 Petr Bencik (Cze) Ed' System
9 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis 0.29
10 Jan Valach (Svk) Ed' System 0.33
1 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team CSC 12.51.27
3 Turpin 0.04
7 Valach 0.12
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Franaise des Jeux 0.14
9 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis 0.17
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole 0.21
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