Shorts: Dunkirk, Hincapie, Boonen, Argus

Four Days of Dunkirk presents five tough stages and strong field, Hincapie opts out of San Remo, Boo

Four Days of Dunkirk presents five tough stages and strong field, Hincapie opts out of San Remo, Boo



The itinerary of this May’s Four Days of Dunkirk has been announced and, like last year, the five-day race does not feature a time trial. The event, which is a favourite among British fans who can pop over the Channel to see it, starts in Dunkirk and heads along the coast past Calais to finish at Gravelines. The second stage is the longest, looks tougher than the first and includes a number of climbs and some cobbled sections. The climbs of Mont Saint-Eloi and Notre Dame de Lorette feature on stage three, while Saturday’s traditionally hilly tough follows a circuit in the Artois hills. The race heads back into Dunkirk on Sunday via Mont des Cats and Mont Cassel le dimanche.

Ten ProTour teams have confirmed their participation: Ag2r Prvoyance, Bouygues Telecom, Caisse d’Epargne, Cofidis, Crdit Agricole, Davitamon-Lotto, Franaise des Jeux, Quick Step, Team CSC and Team Milram. They will be joined by 13 Continental Professional teams: Acqua e Sapone, Agritubel, Auber 93, Bretagne-Jean Floc’h, Chocolade Jacques, Health Net, Landbouwkrediet, Naturino, Selle Italia, Skil-Shimano, Wiesenhof, Tenax and

The stages:

Stage 1, May 3: Dunkirk-Gravelines, 161.9km
Stage 2, May 4: Arques-Le Cateau Cambrsis, 204km
Stage 3, May 5: Fontaine au Pire-Hnin Beaumont, 181.1km
Stage 4, May 6: Noux les Mines-Parc d’Olhain, 190.2km
Stage 5, May 7: Seclin-Dunkirk, 163.7km

– Discovery Channel Classics specialist George Hincapie is going to miss next weekend’s Milan-San Remo because he does not feel he has the form to compete with the main contenders. Hincapie, who finished 12th in Sunday’s time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, is set to be replaced by Dutch sprinter Max van Heeswijk, and the team will focus on the chances of Stijn Devolder and Vladimir Gusev.

– One rider aiming to be among the contenders for the San Remo title next Saturday is Tom Boonen, who quit after just 6km of Sunday’s final stage of Paris-Nice. “I didn’t want to ride full on again because the profile for the final stage was very hard, as I felt very good there was a danger that I might end up pushing myself too hard,” the world champion told La Dernire Heure. Boonen instead watched the stage on the TV in the Quick Step team bus.

“This allows me one more day of recuperation. Milan-San Remo is just a few days away and I want to save all of my strength for that test,” added Boonen. He also revealed that he would be compensating his team-mates himself for the 2,000-euro prize for the points winner at Paris-Nice that he sacrificed when he quit the race, with Samuel Sanchez inheriting that title.

Boonen will spend Monday inspecting the final 55km for the San Remo route with his team-mates, will then return home for a day on Tuesday, before undertaking his final long training session before San Remo of six hours plus on Wednesday.


– Wiesenhof’s Steffen Radochla was the first rider home in Sunday’s Cape Argus Pick’n Pay cycle tour, the world’s biggest timed sporting event. More than 35,000 riders took part in the South African event, raising 340 million rand (£32m) for charity.