The 4 Jours de Dunkerque marked the return to racing for André Greipel after he broke his collarbone in Milan-San Remo. He chose deliberately not to sprint in the first stage to La Bassée, but in the second stage to Soissons he did sprint and he conquered his 150th professional victory!
The second stage of 4 Jours de Dunkerque was ridden on a hilly course. Four official climbs were scheduled, with the top of the last climb at only nine kilometres to go. Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport) and Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Samsic) formed the breakaway of the day, but never got more than five minutes advantage. The French teams FDJ and Vital Concept took the initiative at the front of the pack. Lawrence Naesen and Enzo Wouters helped to catch the breakaway in the finale.
The Lotto Soudal team delivered a clever sprint preparation. Rémy Mertz and Marcel Sieberg kept André Greipel perfectly positioned at the front. Jasper De Buyst accelerated with 250 metres to go, causing Nacer Bouhanni to launch his sprint too early. Greipel could pass the French sprinter relatively easy on the way to his 150th professional victory! Timothy Dupont finished in second place, Bryan Coquard in third.
André Greipel: “I didn’t expect to win already on my second day of racing, but I’m happy I have surprised myself. Yesterday I decided not to sprint. Today I felt better and also the finish suited me better. I got a great support from my team too. Lawrence Naesen and Enzo Wouters pulled in the bunch to catch the break. With Rémy Mertz, Marcel Sieberg and Jasper De Buyst I could rely on some strong guys to put me in perfect position for the sprint. Jasper started the lead-out with 250 metres to go and that way he forced Bouhanni to go early. I chose the wheel of Bryan Coquard for the sprint. In the end I was lucky that I could still pass him on the left, because he had moved up to the barriers but he didn’t close the door.”
“Of course I was happy when I crossed the finish line. It’s always a relief to win, especially since I was out of competition for seven weeks. We have achieved our goal, by winning a stage. I will take the rest of the week day by day. There are two more sprint stages, but also two harder days. We’ll see what happens. We came here to practise the lead-out for the Tour, we need to get used to the mechanisms in the upcoming weeks. Today was already a success!”