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By VeloNews Interactive
AG2R’s Jaan Kirsipuu captured the leader’s pink jersey after winning a sprint for the first stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk on Tuesday.
The Estonian rider covered the 164.8km between the northern French towns of Dunkirk and Steenvoorde in 3 hours, 46 minutes, pipping Australia’s Baden Cooke (Mercury-Viatel) and French champion Christophe Capelle of BigMat-Auber.
Meanwhile, American Dylan Casey (US Postal) crashed just after crossing the line when he collided with a sound engineer from a French television station. According to early medical reports Casey suffered a fractured pelvis and collarbone and had been taken to a hospital in Hazebrouck. Belgian cycling star Frank Vandenbroucke, one of the pre-race favorites, pulled out of the event before the stage, suffering from bronchitis.
The first attack of the race was lead by France’s Christophe Bassons, but the Jean Delatour team rider was quickly caught by Cofidis’ David Lefevre, who reacted best to the early difficulties at Mont Noir and Mont Cats.
Lefevre built up a 2:20 lead at 100km, but the peloton reacted and caught the breakaway rider, with French compatriots Eddy Seigneur (Jean Delatour) and Pascal Lino (Festina) taking the relay.
But the duo could not fight off an acceleration of former world number one cyclist Laurent Jalabert (CSC-WorldOnline), who caught them 24km from the line and broke the peleton into three groups.
Kirsipuu was among a group of twelve riders who took the lead with a 29-second advantage on the pursuing pack, and despite the best efforts of the Belgian Lotto team, Kirsipuu took the sprint.
Among those finishing in the top group were Britain’s David Millar (Cofidis), Jalabert and Christophe Moreau of Festina.
Wednesday’s second stage is a 192.2km run between Roost and Warendin.
Copyright AFP 2001
FOUR DAYS OF DUNKIRK, France, May 8-11
1. Jaan Kirsipuu (F), AG2R, 164.8km in 3:46:00; 2. Baden Cooke (Aus), Mercury-Viatel, at .04; 3. Christophe Capelle (F), BigMat-Auber, at .06; 4. Laurent Jalabert (F), CSC-WorldOnline, at .09; 5. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Credit Agricole, at .10; 6. Paolo Valoti (I), Alessio; 7. Bert Hiemstra (Nl), Bankgiroloterij-Batavus; 8. Didier Rous (F), Bonjour; 9. David Millar (GB), Cofidis; 10. Christophe Moreau (F), Festina, all same time.