- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 7 May 2009
After two days of racing, Columbia-Highroad’s Andre Greipel is leading in the Four Days of Dunkirk in France, his first event after a four-month injury hiatus. Greipel dislocated his right shoulder in a bad crash during stage three of the Tour Down Under in January. After an operation, the German rider has had to put up with a lengthy period out of action. But in the Four Days of Dunkirk, Greipel has returned to racing with a vengeance.
Seventh in a bunch sprint on stage one, and second in a bunch sprint on stage two behind French rider Jimmy Engoulvent, means Greipel is now leading overall. Second is Sebastian Chavanel of France, while Dutchman Steve De Jongh is third.
"To be honest we were a bit surprised to get the lead" sports director Brian Holm commented. "For Andre, it?s great news, just what he needed after such a long time away. But we weren’t expecting this. He’s been away quite a while with his injury, and our other sprinter here, Greg Henderson, has been out for a while taking a break after the Classics, just like the rest of the team here. So we told the team they were under no real pressure here and honestly we didn’t do any work to make sure the race ended in a sprint. But Andre went for it at the finish, and it worked out very well."
Despite having taken the lead so unexpectedly, Holm insists Columbia-Highroad will do everything possible to defend it on Thursday’s 228-kilometre stage from Bleriot Plage to Betuhune. "If we can keep it for another day, that would be great. Friday’s time trial stage could be more of a challenge" added Holm. "There’s every chance on Thursday that there will be a break full of Frenchmen early on, so we’ll see who’s in it, and then work ourselves into the ground if necessary. We’ll try to keep our bases covered and make sure we react to whatever circumstances we have to face in the race."