Arnaud Démare is set to make his Tour de France debut in 2014 and the defence of his 4 Jours de Dunkerque title that he won last year is a sign that the 22-year-old is on track for the Grand Depart on July 4. The Frenchman recently extended his contract with FDJ to 2016 and has several wins to his name this year along with an impressive 12th place at Paris-Roubaix
"I didn't expect to be going so fast so early, since I was racing to get some rhythm back and my season objective, the Tour de France, is still far away," Démare said. "My goal was to take a stage, but once I got the leader's jersey the entire team worked its socks off to defend it. With the weather exacting a heavy toll, all our riders had to dig very deep to bring home the bacon. Therefore, I'll spend a few days recovering to make sure I'm in good shape at the Tour de Picardie."
For Démare, the 2.1 race will be all about fine tuning the team and sprint train in preparation for the Tour. "The team will take part in the Tour de Picardie with the same backbone, especially Mickaël Delage, who has the same programme and sticks with me in all the sprints," Démare said. "My aim is to win a stage, which was also my approach to the Four Days of Dunkirk. And if it all falls into place again..."
Démare is hoping to have better luck this year at the Tour de Picardie which he is a race he has fond memories of, but not as a cyclist.
"[Last year] I was delayed by a fall at the end of stage 1, and then it was my turn to hit the deck during stage 3. It was an utter failure, but I'm back and all fired up to do much better this time around.
"I've always known and followed the Tour de Picardie. I remember once, when I was still in school, there was a stage which started from Beauvais on a school day, so my mother found an excuse for me so I could get out and come to the start. Memories like these colour my view of the race."