4 Jours de Dunkerque / Grand Prix des Hauts de France
Stage 4: Maubeuge - Achicourt
France Friday 19 May 2023 173.8 km
Kasper Asgreen moves into the leader’s jersey
Traveling from Maubeuge to Achicourt, stage 4 of the French race was touted to be one for the sprinters, and in the end, it came down to a mass gallop, but the undulating terrain and the cobblestone sectors brought some significant changes to the general classification. The main reason for this was Soudal Quick-Step taking the race by the scruff of its neck and applying pressure as soon as the wind picked up, which resulted in a series of riders, including the overall leader, being distanced.
Our team continued to pull hard all the way to the line, where another hectic finale unfolded, with Belgian Champion Tim Merlier coming home in eighth place behind winner Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma). The Wolfpack’s huge work paid off, propelling Kasper Asgreen to the top of the general classification, ahead of teammate and best young rider Ethan Vernon, going into the queen stage of the event, held on the now famous Cassel circuit.
“It was a very hectic stage, due to the cobblestones, but the guys did a fantastic job to keep me, Tim and Ethan out of trouble. On the last sector, the bunch stretched out, I pushed a bit in the crosswinds and a split took place. The guys were fantastic, they pushed hard and it’s thanks to them that I have this jersey now”, said Asgreen, who took to the podium also together with Lars Craps and Ethan Vernon to be awarded the most combative team trophy. “I am happy that Lars joined us at the finish, he did an amazing ride the entire day and kept us out of trouble. It would be nice to keep the jersey and we’ll give it our best for this.”
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images