David Gaudu in Portugal, Thibaut Pinot in Tyrol. These are not holiday destinations, but the only two victories for the Groupama-FDJ team this season. No Arnaud Démare, yet the main provider of bouquets in recent years (23 since 2020). The Picard approached it on Tirreno-Adriatico with a second place in Terni behind Caleb Ewan.
But the list of the triple champion of France is thin, barely raised by places of honor on Milan-San Remo (10th), Bruges-La Panne (6th) or Ghent-Wevelgem (10th). Not ideal before wrestling with Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan, Mathieu van der Poel and Giacomo Nizzolo on the Giro, which starts Friday from Budapest. A race that Démare would have preferred not to take part in, in favor of the Tour de France, but which he intends to take advantage of to (re)launch his year.
To skip the turn
Arnaud Démare will not see Copenhagen this summer, or else in front of his TV. The native of Beauvais did not hide it, the news was hard to swallow. Last year, he left the race bitter and out of time from the 9th stage. Revenge will have to wait. “I’m very happy that he’s disappointed not to be at the Tour de France”, commented Marc Madiot in January, then drawing out the argument of the route: “On the Tour, the opportunities for sprinters to exist are quite limited . On the Giro, there are a lot of opportunities to have sprints. For us and for Arnaud, the goal is to win a lot, and great things. There is a fairly logical distribution of roles for each other throughout the season. Even if the Tour is a major objective, life does not stop at the Tour either. »
No wave in the soul to report from the side of the sporting director Sébastien Joly: “It was digested fairly quickly I think. He also knows he has the opportunity to have a team around him. Honestly, I think he prefers to have a team almost 100% around him on a Giro rather than a team at 50-50 on the Tour like last year. “Response of the principal concerned Wednesday afternoon:” It is something that I respect, even if, as I said, I am disappointed. Now I am at the Giro and I am thinking of the Giro. No matter where I’m lined up, I give 100%. Five to seven opportunities have been identified, starting with the third stage, which will arrive in Balatonfüred on Sunday. So many opportunities to seize to reconnect with winning.
The positive attitude
Groupama-FDJ will start the Corsa Rosa with “two leaders” according to Sébastien Joly. The DS is counting on the Hungarian Attila Valter to shine on the steep courses by taking breakaways. But it was impossible to hide seeing the other runners lined up, all used to participating in the launch of the Démare rocket. Jacopo Guarnieri, Ramon Sinkeldam, Miles Scotson, Ignas Konovalovas and Clément Davy will all be on the board for their sprinter, like Tobias Ludvigsson, “who will have a dual role, supporting Attila and lending a hand to the train”.
The seats have not yet been there, but the lights are apparently green. “I did not have the results up to what I had in my legs, I missed opportunities”, concedes Nono, not helped by the health glitches of his teammates, but satisfied with his feelings before the Great Departure. “Physically, he is almost stronger than in previous years. He is very serene due to his condition, engages Joly. On Milan-San Remo, he manages to follow the best in the Cipressa while it goes up very quickly. In April, we worked a little more specifically in certain areas of intensity, and there were things done extremely well. We didn’t let the group fall asleep on an average start to the season, we preferred to re-stimulate it, and I hope that will bear fruit. I think so. »
From there to relive the intense emotions of 2020? Démare then flew over the competition by winning four stages and the cyclamen jersey in the points classification. “I know what can happen on a Grand Tour, he tempers. Last year, I arrived on the Tour to break everything and finally, I was home after a week. I already hope to win one. “And his DS to add:” In addition to the victory, I expect them to give impetus to this train and that they prove to us that they have pride, above all. We are more than 30 people from a month to surround the runners, we do not make this kind of concessions just to be at the start. In other words, we let go of the horses, and we count on Démare to become a Fatal Picard again.