Although overshadowed by the Giro d'Italia, the 52nd Four Days of Dunkirk (rated 2.HC on the European tour) has attracted a strong field. Definitely not a climbers' race, the Four Days is actually five long road stages, and there is no time trial this year. Last year's winner was Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom), and the Frenchman will line up again with the support of Laurent Brochard, Didier Rous and Anthony Geslin, among others. But there are plenty of challengers.
Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) has been in solid form early this season, winning Gent-Wevelgem and beating Alessandro Petacchi on more than one occasion. CSC has its classics squad with Stuart O'Grady coming back after an early season crash, as are Lars Bak and Brian Vandborg. Other riders in with a chance of a good showing are Jimmy Casper and Brad Wiggins (Cofidis), Frédéric Guesdon (Française des Jeux), Fred Rodriguez and Gert Steegmans (Davitamon-Lotto), Isaac Galvez (Caisse D'epargne), Niko Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques), Steven De Jongh (Quick.Step), Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) and Gerald Ciolek (Wiesenhof).
The race takes place in the Nord-Pas de Calais region in France, and is mostly suited to the sprinters. However, the penultimate stage from Noeux-les-Mines to Parc départemental d'Olhain features several laps of a hilly finishing circuit.
Stage 1 - May 3: Dunkerque - Gravelines, 161,9 km
Stage 2 - May 4: Arques - Le Cateau-Cambrésis, 204,7 km
Stage 3 - May 5: Fontaine-au-Pire - Hénin-Beaumont, 181,1 km
Stage 4 - May 6: Noeux-les-Mines - Parc départemental d'Olhain, 190,2 km Stage 5 - May 7: Seclin - Dunkerque, 163,7 km
Bouygues Telecom, Crédit Agricole, CSC, AG2R, Française des Jeux, Cofidis, Davitamon, Caisse d'Epargne/Illes Balears, Quick.Step, Milram, Agritubel, Unibet.com, Tenax-Salmilano, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Skil-Shimano, Chocolade Jacques, Naturino-Sapore di Mare, Wiesenhof-Akud, Acqua e Sapone, Health Net, Selle Italia, Auber 93, Bretagne Jean Floc'h.