Busy day for Etixx – Quick-Step at the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque
Iljo Keisse made it into the day-long break, while Maximiliano Richeze came fourth in the bunch sprint.
In what was the most action-packed stage so far at the 62nd edition of the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, Iljo Keisse decided together with the team that the pace of the peloton was too soft for him, so he took off after 40 kilometers and set up a four-man break. Together with Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Armindo Fonseca (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Brian Van Goethem (Roompot Oranje), the former Giro d'Italia stage winner opened up an advantage of five minutes, which made the chasing teams nervous. Iljo, a rider used to give his every ounce of energy regardless of the race or the scenario, did some really long and impressive pulls front, that allowed the escapees to keep their dreams alive until the final 1500 meters, when they were swept by the pack.
"The team decided I had to be in the break today, so I did. When we came into the final kilometers we were caught and it all ended up in a bunch sprint. It's really an awful feeling knowing you're so close and then getting caught. If we would have had 15 more seconds, then maybe we could have made it, but that's cycling. Now I look forward to the next two stages", an upbeat Iljo said after the Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise stage.
With the finish in a slight uphill, Maximiliano Richeze sensed there was a good opportunity for him to land another strong result, which he did, as he crossed the line in fourth position, behind Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie), Baptiste Planckaert and Rudy Barbier. For Richeze, who's in his maiden season with Etixx – Quick-Step, this was the third top 10 in a row in the French race, which he's doing for the first time in his career.
The penultimate day of the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque is set to take place on Saturday, when the peloton will have a complicated stage on the menu (Andruicq – Cassel, 178.2 kilometers), during which they'll do 9 laps on a 14.6-km long circuit that includes two climbs. The terrain is ideally suited to the puncheurs and will be decisive for the final outcome of the general classification.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele