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The area around Nord Pas de Calais cycling race is as impressive as ever, as this year’s riders battle it out against very strong winds, high cliffs and hills, cobble stones and lashing rain. There had of course been many tumbles along the way, which wasn’t helped by the heavy rain on Thursday second stage of the Tour. The conditions were unfavourable for the riders.

However, after the success for Arnaud Démare on day one as he conquered the first stage of the Tour, all eyes were on Silvain Chavanel to see if he can win the pink coloured jersey, and the Tour of this region.

Day two saw the riders facing an incredible battle of endurance. It wasn’t just against the rain, and the wind, but also against the cobble stones. They had to do this over three laps. It was a struggle for most of them, as many riders found themselves on the floor during the attack. One from the team Giant struggled to maintain his bicycle as he attacked the bend at an incredible speed, only to find himself on the floor with other riders riding around him. It was an impressive state of affairs, during a tumble, as all eyes were on the rider on the floor wondering if he was ever going to get up.

Fortunately he wasn’t hurt. I can imagine he was a little shocked, as were the spectators who were protected by the barrier. Yet, it was finally Arnaud Démare who after a long hard sprint managed to retain his lead at the top of the table and win the race.

Day three saw the riders struggle up the ascension of Cap Blanc-Nez, with very strong winds in front of them, before making the final hurdle down towards Calais, where the favourite Sylvain Chavanel finally came into play. In company of the young Dutch rider Michael Valgren Andersen (Tinkoff-Saxo), they imposed their final sprint allowing Chavanel to win the stage and to become number two on the leader board with Arnaud Démare still in first place. Day four saw some incredible moments as the riders battled it up the steep slopes of the Vigneau de Licques with winds at 90km per hour. The escapees were well placed during the first three laps, with almost an eleven minute advance in front of the peloton. But the peloton soon gathered ground and managed to break down the escapees.

Then, entering the final 30 kilometers, Sylvain Chavanel surprised everyone and took off after his attack with Steven Tronet (Big Mat) following him too, as they both took on the entire peloton while

chasing the escapees three minutes up the road. This lead to Démare being forced to let his teammates do all the hard work on the chase, with only a few seconds separating these two giants. The two riders were brought back into line a few kilometers later.

From then on, the final consisted of attacks from both the front riders and the chasing bunch. But at the end it was Thierry Hupond (Giant-Shimano) who won the stage, after going it alone in the final attack only a few kilometers from the finishing line. Despite losing this stage, Arnaud Démare still retained the overall lead. All will be out to play for as the Nord Pas de Calais cycling race enters into its closing round.

Day five certainly ended the four days on a high note, as the riders battled against all the elements on the final day for Jimmy Engoulvent from Team Europcar to win this stage. Despite losing out on this final stage win; Arnaud Démare won the four days of Dunkirk, with a joint 6 second lead over Sylvain Chavanel from IAM Cycling and Michael Valgren Andersen from Tinkoff-Saxo.

The final table of the 4 days of Dunkirk:

1. Arnaud DEMARE FDJ.fr 22:14:25

2. Sylvain CHAVANEL IAM Cycling 00:00:06

3. Michael Valgren ANDERSEN Tinkoff-Saxo 00:00:06

4. Samuel DUMOULIN AG2R La Mondiale 00:00:22

5. Sébastien DELFOSSE Wallonie – Bruxelles 00:00:22

6. Florian SENECHAL Cofidis, Solutions Crédits 00:00:29

7. Pieter JACOBS Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise 00:00:46

8. Yannick MARTINEZ Team Europcar 00:00:50

9. Steven TRONET BigMat – Auber 93 00:00:52

10. Jan GHYSELINCK Wanty-Groupe Gobert 00:00:52

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