4 Jours de Dunkerque Stage 4: Stybar Crushes Cobbles, Wins
Zdenek Stybar, just four races into his road season for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team, won solo on Monday at 4 Jours de Dunkerque, Stage 4. He attacked with just kilometers to go, and gapped all chasers on a cobbled climb with 2km remaining.
"I am super happy about this victory," Stybar said. "It was not an easy stage, but this morning I really focused to try to do something good. It is super for me, but really the most important win for me too. I proved I can win also on the road. A lot of people said it wasn't possible, and now I showed it was possible. When I chose to ride on the road bike I only listened to my heart and it was the right thing to do. Now I am really, really happy. When I crossed the finish line I couldn't believe I won the race. I was thinking maybe someone was in front of me. I had to ask if I won or not but when I realized I won, I was over the moon. It was one of best moments in my life."
Niki Terpstra was the first aggressor for the team, getting into a break when the race entered the circuit portion of the course.
Terpstra was eventually caught, but the team was just getting started. Stybar and Jerome Pineau, who were 2nd and 3rd in Stage 1, have been active all four stages. Monday, Stybar and Pineau animated a chase group that was once as small as three — including Thomas Voeckler — and as large as about 10 to 12 riders within the final 5km. Stybar and Pineau consistently attacked, or chased attacks, showing their strength. Stybar first attacked with 17km remaining, as Damien Gaudin (Team Europcar) was up the road. Voeckler and Pineau quickly jumped on Stybar's wheel, and while teams battled back to the three, Pineau dropped back a bit while Voeckler and Stybar continued on.
"The team worked really good today," Sports Director Tom Steels said. "They were aggressive since the beginning of the race try to put always at least one rider in a breakaway, so we were always present. The team was always under control."
A small group of about 10 riders formed while Gaudin was caught and passed. A chase group of several other riders bridged to the Stybar, Pineau, and Voeckler group with 8km remaining. Davy Commeyne (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) and Laurent Pichon (Bretagne-Schuller) decided to try and escape, but with less than 3km remaining, those two were caught by Stybar and several others. Stybar saw his chances to attack, and rode away seated for the victory.
"I went with Pineau, and we tried to do the race harder in the last 20 to 22km," Stybar said. "At the end, something like 3km to go, I decided to go alone and just played everything or nothing. I did everything to try to keep the speed high until the end. When I looked behind me near the end I looked behind me and saw I was alone, so I also accelerated to make sure."
Current overall leader Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) initially missed the key move that decided the race, but worked his way back in the final kilometers. Stybar trails Engoulvent by 43" in the GC after the stage.
"The problem, yesterday Engoulvent won with a big gap," Steels said. "So normally there is not a lot of room to try and do something because of the time gap, and because the stage is flat, it not so difficult tomorrow. But, we can maybe see what is happening with the weather forecast. If we will have a crosswind we will try to do something. We are an aggressive team. We always try to do something, to make the effort to try and then we will see. We don't want to have regrets."
This is the 32nd win for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team, in three disciplines.
"It's also really nice I could win a race a year after my debut on the road of Dunkerque," Stybar said. "A year after I am here to fight and won a stage. This is really fantastic. I want to devote this victory to the team that did a great job, and also Pineau as in the final, we played well with the tactics. It was important for me to have him in the final. But also this victory in general, I will devote to the team who believed in me two years ago when I became a professional on the road, and my family that was always behind me. I will do my best tomorrow, but I also want to relax and enjoy this victory because for me, this is a great step."