Arnaud Démare is no stranger to coming from a long way back to victory in a one-day race, as anyone who remembers Milan-San Remo 2016 will attest. His win at Paris-Tours was more comprehens­ive, however, and more astute, and it had to be: there were only 11km left of the race when he launched his attack on the Côte de Rochecorbo­n, and he made up the 24-second gap to the two leaders just in time to storm to victory. It was timed perfectly, and the Frenchman’s attack owed much to the work of his team, especially Valentin Madouas. Groupama-FDJ had been pulling in the peloton in the kilometres before Démare’s attack, as it looked like Stan Dewulf and Franck Bonnamour were getting away from the bunch. Madouas’s attack, on the Côte de Vouvray, put pressure on the bunch to chase, and then allowed Démare to counteratt­ack 10km later.

This attack needed to happen at that point, or all would have been lost. Fortunatel­y for the Frenchman, he was joined by Jasper Stuyven. Démare’s masterstro­ke was to convince the Belgian to work with him, and so they reeled the leading duo in, just in time. The pair are reasonably similar riders, they have both won San Remo, but the assumption would be that

Démare has the fastest sprint, and so it proved. However, Stuyven would not have reached the finish line without his companion’s attack, and he had to gamble, as he did. As for Dewulf and Bonnamour out front, they were helpless and the two stronger riders swept past them within the final kilometre, on the famous Avenue de Grammont.

This whole race proved Démare’s maturity and intelligen­ce, but also his confidence in himself. This year has been seen as a rather fallow year for the sprinter, but he has still managed nine wins. With his victory here, he has shown there might well be more to come in the classics next year.

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 ?? ?? FDJ’s Arnaud Démare kicks past Franck Bonnamour and Jasper Stuyven
FDJ’s Arnaud Démare kicks past Franck Bonnamour and Jasper Stuyven

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