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By Agence France Presse
Belgian Kenny De Haes of the Topsport team claimed victory in the third stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk race Thursday after upsetting Norwegian sprint ace Thor Hushovd at the line.
Frenchman Stephane Auge of Cofidis retained the race leader’s jersey after the 193km stage from Le Cateau-Cambresis to Saint-Quentin, France.
Cofidis and the Skil team of the race’s best climber Clement Lhotellerie, were forced to work throughout most of Thursday’s stage to protect their respective jerseys.
An early three-man breakaway went off after just 12km, but their lead was allowed to hit a maximum of just 4:45s at the 75km mark, before the peloton upped the pace decisively.
They were caught with 11km to race, and in the final bunch sprint De Haes surged ahead of his rivals after Gert Steegmans, the much-fancied Belgian winner of Wednesday’s sprint, failed to produce the required speed.
Hushovd, of Credit Agricole, finished second with former under-23 world champion Gerald Ciolek, of High Road, in third.
The Four Days of Dunkirk is a six-day race which culminates with Sunday’s 128km race around Dunkirk.
1. Kenny De Haes (BEL/Topsport) 193km in 4:38:34.
2. Thor Hushovd (NOR) s.t.
3. Gerald Ciolek (GER) s.t.
4. Jean-Patrick Nazon (FRA) s.t.
5. Borut Bozic (SLO) s.t.
6. Jose Joaquin Gil Rojas (ESP) s.t.
7. Koen De Kort (NED) s.t.
8. Sebastian Siedler (GER) s.t.
9. Gianni Meersman (BEL) s.t.
10. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) s.t.
1. Stephane Auge (FRA/Cofidis) 13:49:45.
2. Clement Lhotellerie (FRA) at 19.
3. Kenny De Haes (BEL) at 2:44.
4. Rony Martias (FRA) at 2:45.
5. Florian Vachon (FRA) at 2:47.
6. Thor Hushovd (NOR) at 2:48.
7. Jean-Patrick Nazon (FRA) at 2:50.
8. Gerald Ciolek (GER) s.t.
9. Sebastian Siedler (GER) s.t.
10. Anthony Roux (FRA) at 2:51.
12. Herve Duclos-Lassalle (FRA) at 2:53.
37. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) at 2:54.
43. Jimmy Casper (FRA) s.t.
44. Frederic Guesdon (FRA) s.t.
53. Pierrick Fedrigo (FRA) s.t.
97. Christophe Mengin (FRA) at 3:07.