PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Although deprived of its usual high-quality field by a conflict with the Romandy and Giro ProTour events, the Four Days of Dunkirk has still managed to attract most of France's leading riders, and some other big names besides. The first stage was won by one of the those names, as Norway's Thor Hushovd, riding for the French Crdit Agricole team, won the bunch sprint into Marcq en Baroeul.
The stage featured a couple of notable cameos. Frank Vandenbroucke finally made his first stage race appearance for the MrBookmaker.com team, and finished three and a half minutes behind the leading group. The controversial Belgian has made clear that he is a long way short of his best and is simply looking for racing miles this week.
A second, and perhaps even more unexpected, cameo was given by Team CSC debutant Linus Gerdemann, who showed a huge amount of nerve in attacking halfway through the stage, then waiting for Davitamon's Koos Moerenhout to come up and join him. The pair were only caught 4km from the finish, and Gerdemann, who was pointed out to CSC boss Bjarne Riis by Jens Voigt, did receive the consolation of the climber's and best young rider's jerseys.
"Linus had an excellent debut and, I have to admit, I'm very impressed," said CSC DS Kim Andersen. "It's a strong peloton and what he did today bodes well for the future. We have a group of very young riders in the line-up, and they all performed well today. Since they're all really motivated, I believe we have a fair chance of taking a good result down here."
Stage 1, Dunkirk-Marcq en Baroeul
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole 153.7km in 3.22.21 (45.57kph)
2 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis
3 Jaroslaw Zarebski (Pol) Intel-Action
4 Jurgen van Loocke (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
5 Sebastian Siedler (Ger) Wiesenhof
6 Marcin Lewandowski (Pol) Intel-Action
7 Camille Bouquet (Fra) MrBookmaker.com
8 Lars-Ytting Bak (Den) CSC
9 Sergio Marinangeli (Ita) Naturino
10 Crescenzo d'Amore (Ita) Acqua e Sapone
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole 3.22.09
2 Casper 0.06
3 Zarebski 0.08
4 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) CSC
5 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 0.09
6 Koos Moerenhout (Hol) Davitamon-Lotto
7 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Franaise des Jeux 0.10
8 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques
9 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 0.11
10 Antonio Salomone (Ita) Barloworld
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM