Race report

Nils Eekhoff 3rd in 4 Jours de Dunkerque opener

4 Jours de Dunkerque

The opening day of racing at 4 Jours de Dunkerque saw the bunch take on a predominantly flat 161 kilometre long parcours from Dunkerque to Aniche, albeit with a few short hills littered throughout the day. It was a steady start to proceedings with a three rider breakaway going clear from the flag drop but as the day proceeded the pace picked up and the original move was caught with over 65 kilometres to go.

More attacks flew from the bunch which the team covered well, before a new three rider group escaped, with Enzo Leijnse taking up a role towards the front of the peloton in the chase. As the finish drew closer fellow Development program rider Max Poole also joined in the chase and the attackers were eventually caught inside five kilometres to go. Setting up a fast and nervous finish, the bunch took on the twists and turns in the finale, avoiding the road furniture.

The team moved forward well as a unit with Jonas Iversby Hvidberg doing a lot of work, bringing sprinter Sam Welsford towards the front under the flamme rouge, with Nils Eekhoff in tow just behind him. With last lead out man Niklas Märkl peeling off, Welsford sat in third wheel as the line approached. Kicking and going full-gas straight for the line around the final kink in the road, Welsford made contact with De Lie and a mass crash occurred.

Crossing the line first, Welsford would ultimately be relegated by the jury, meaning the closely following Eekhoff was the team’s best finisher on the stage in third place.

Team DSM hope that all of those involved in the fall are ok.

“The stage started off controlled but after a period of crosswind and chaos, where the peloton caught the break, another breakaway got clear,” explained Eekhoff. “We decided to put Enzo in the chase to keep the bunch calm because we’re confident in our lead out and sprinter. Towards the finish we stayed together well and made sure to bring Sam in a good position for the sprint. It’s a shame to see such a bad crash happen in the final and we hope that everyone is ok after it. We are confident for the next days that we can deliver Sam in an even better spot to go for the win. Personally, I’m happy with my shape after a long time out of racing after a concussion, and I’m looking forward to the next days here.”

Team DSM coach Roy Curvers added: “First of all, I really hope that all the riders who crashed at the finish are ok. You can discuss at length how the crash happened but in the end the jury makes the ultimate decision and that’s final. Performance wise, I saw a really dedicated team who took the race in their hands in the final and did a strong lead out. I think if we continue working like this then the victories will follow.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 DE KLEIJN Arvid Human Powered Health 3:31:14 20
2 TESSON Jason St Michel - Auber93 ,, 10
3 EEKHOFF Nils Team DSM ,, 5
61 MÄRKL Niklas Team DSM ,, -
85 HVIDEBERG Jonas Iversby Team DSM ,, -
109 POOLE Max Team DSM ,, -
110 LEIJNSE Enzo Team DSM ,, -
118 WELSFORD Sam Team DSM ,, -