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CSC's young tyro Linus Gerdemann was forced out of the leader's jersey on the toughest stage at the Four Days of Dunkirk in the face of a joint assault by the Crdit Agricole and Bouygues Telecom teams. The stage, that included six climbs of the short but steep Mont Lambert in Boulogne, was won by Barloworld's Vladimir Efimkin, with Bouygues' Pierrick Fedrigo taking second place and the race lead from Gerdemann.
Efimkin made his move 10km from the finish on the last ascent of Mont Lambert. Fedrigo and Crdit Agricole's Thor Hushovd tried to respond but could not get on terms with the Russian, who added this success to a stage win in the Tour of Aragon last month.
The crucial action as far as GC was concerned saw Fedrigo finish 16 seconds ahead of Gerdemann; the pair had been tied overall on time prior to the stage. With just Sunday's flat stage to come, Fedrigo now has a useful advantage of Efimkin, even allowing for a 10-second time bonus available on the line.
"I'm extremely pleased with the performance of our young riders, but today there was nothing they could do, as the attacks came left, right and centre almost from the beginning of the stage," said CSC DS Kim Andersen. "However, we still have two riders in the top 10, and Linus and Andy [Schleck] are second and third respectively in the best young riders competition. So at the end of the day I think we can be proud of what we've achieved in this race."
Stage 4, Boulogne-Boulogne
1 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Barloworld-Valsir 173.4km in 4.39.55 (37.17kph)
2 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 0.20
3 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole 0.22
4 Josep Jufre (Spa) Relax-Fuenlabrada 0.24
5 Cyril Dessel (Fra) Ag2r
6 Bert de Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Franaise des Jeux 0.27
8 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua e Sapone
9 Johan Coenen (Bel) MrBookmaker.com 0.29
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crdit Agricole
1 Pierrick Fdrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 17.31.36
2 Efimkin 0.12
3 Moreau 0.19
4 Petr Bencik (Cze) Ed'System 0.21
5 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) CSC 0.22
6 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Ag2r 0.23
7 Hushovd 0.25
8 Andy Schleck (Lux) CSC 0.26
9 Gilbert 0.27
10 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis 0.36 sec.
- Pavel Tonkov won the opening stage of the two-day Alcobendas Classic, which takes place in and around the sierra north of Madrid. The opening stage finished on the top of the Navacerrada climb, where the veteran Russian attacked 8km from the finish. Nicolas Fritsch and then Francisco Perez got back on terms with Tonkov, with Perez launching an attack of his own. But he couldn't shake the LPR rider, and Tonkov went again a kilometre from the line. The 36-year-old Russian got a 10-second bonus at the finish and is 12 seconds ahead of runner-up Jos Gomez Marchante overall.
Stage 1, Alcobendas-Puerto de Navacerrada
1 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Team LPR 170km in 3.55.54 (43.24kph)
2 Jos Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval 0.08
3 Francisco Perez (Spa) Milaneza 0.13
4 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak 0.19
5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 0.22
6 Jonathan Gonzalez (Spa) Illes Balears 0.26
7 Nicolas Fritsch (Fra) Saunier Duval 0.28
8 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis 0.39
9 Danail Petrov (Bul) Milaneza 0.51
10 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak 0.54
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