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4 Jours de Dunkerque / Tour du Nord-pas-de-Calais 2011: Stage 2

Welcome back to the second stage of this year's Four Days of Dunkirk. Another bunch sprint?

94km remaining from 166km

We currently have a four-man break at three minutes: Anthony Ravard (AG2R), Martin Mortensen (Leopard Trek), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil) and Julien El Fares (Cofidis).

94km remaining from 166km

We currently have a four-man break at three minutes: Anthony Ravard (AG2R), Martin Mortensen (Leopard Trek), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil) and Julien El Fares (Cofidis).

94km remaining from 166km

We currently have a four-man break at three minutes: Anthony Ravard (AG2R), Martin Mortensen (Leopard Trek), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil) and Julien El Fares (Cofidis).

71km remaining from 166km

We currently have a four-man break at three minutes: Anthony Ravard (AG2R), Martin Mortensen (Leopard Trek), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil) and Julien El Fares (Cofidis).

Susan taking over.  This new system is quite something, takes us all a while to figure it out!

The stage today ends with a closing circuit, and the field has just crossed the finish line for the first time.  Three laps to go, and the gap is down to 2:10

There were two climbs again in today's stage, with the first one coming only 9.2km into the day.   The points for climbing the Erchin when to Steven Tronet (Roubaix Lille Metropole), followed by Bacquet (Big Mat-Auber) and Denis Flahaut (Roubaix Lılle Metropole).

They hit the finish line again and the gap has dropped to 1:40.

OK, let's change that to:  they have only crossed the finish line once so far, and are still on the first lap of the circuit course.  That does make a bit more sense, doesn't it?

The leading quartet took all the points at the day's first intermediate sprint, with Ravard beating out Mortensen and Keizer.   And the results were the same at the second sprint.
 

Everything is working out to provide us with another mass sprint today.  FDJ is leading the charge right now.

Keiser has attacked out of the lead group.  Behind him, the peloton has fallen into two groups.

And just like that, things change again.  Keizer alone in the lead, with everyone else right behind him!

35km remaining from 166km

Keizer crosses the finish line to set off of another lap -- with a gap of only six seconds.

Marcel Kittel of Skil-Shimano won the stage yesterday and managed to lead almost every single category.  Of course he leads the GC, ahead of Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Leopard Trek).

The escape is over and the peloton is back together.

We had a third intermediate sprint in there.  Keizer took it, ahead of Joost Van Leijen (Vacansoleil) and Frederic Guesdon (FDJ).

Kittel also leads the points classification, ahead of – you guessed it – Galimzyanov and Nizzolo.  And we have the same line-up for the best young rider!
 

Two riders have jumped out and have a minimal lead.  Others are trying to join them.

Romain Bacon (Big Mat-Auber) and Samramotins (Cofidis) are the two who have taken off.
 

There are now nine riders together in the lead, with Leopard Trek and Skil-Shimano leading a furious chase.

165km remaining from 166km

It is 12 riders, and they have six seconds:  S. Hinault, Pozzato, Paolini, Stybar, Jorgensen, Van Leijen, Saramotins, Claude, Bacon, Guesdon, Kneisky, Docker.

Landbouwkrediet and Saur-Sojasun missed out on the break, so they are driving the chase.

The gap has jumped to 25 seconds.

It is now 13 in the lead group, as Gregory Habeaux has jumped to join them.

And here our 13 leaders with team names:  S. Hinault (AG2R), Pozzato, Paolini (Katusha), Stybar (Quick Step), Jorgensen (Saxo Bank), Van Leijen (Vacansoleil), Saramotins (Cofidis), Claude (Europcar), Bacon (Big Mat), Guesdon (FDJ), Kneisky (Roubaix), Docker (Skil) and Habeaux (Verandas Willems).

The gap is down to 20 seconds.

Only nine km to go!

Bad news for Katusha.  Galimzyanov, second overall, has punctured.

Jorgensen and Van Leijen have broken out.  They have 10 seconds on the other escapees and 15 seconds on the field.

3km remaining from 166km

Everyone came back together with 4 km to go, but now Johan Le Bon (Bretagne-Schuller) has taken off.

2km remaining from 166km

2km to go and the field has caught Le Bon.

The Flamme Rouge -- and the sprint is on!

Kittel wins again!

That is two straight wins for the young German from Skil-Shimano.

Aidis Kroupis of Landbouwkrediet took second, and third was Michaël Van Staeyen of Topsport Vlaanderen.

Kittel will have cemented his overall lead with that second stage win today.

Our podium today looks like this:

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Skil - Shimano
2 Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet
3 Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator

That's it for today!  Thanks for reading along with us.

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