Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) won the GP d'Isbergues - Pas de Calais in a sprint finish ahead of John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) and Jean-Pierre Drucker (Accent Jobs-Wanty) on Sunday in the north of France. Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd rounded out the top 5 for BMC as they continued their fine tuning heading into the UCI Road World Championship Road Race on Sunday.
Degenkolb was visibly upset as he crossed the line, raising a hand towards Démare in protest. As the Frenchman explained, however, he believed Degenkolb was trying to go through a gap that wasn't there.
"Frankly, I wasn't at fault," exclaimed Démare. "Mika [Mickael Delage] lead me right along the right barriers and no doubt Degenkolb is a bit quicker than me, but he wanted to pass between the barriers and myself. I didn't open the door, I do not have to. This is the sprint."
The race jury agreed with Démare and his win stood. Démare hit form mid-way through the current season when he won three stages in a row, as well as bagging the general classification, the young rider classification and the points classification at the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque. The neo-pro then continued his strong second half of the season by taking sprint wins at the Eneco Tour, the Ride London Classic and the Tour de Suisse.
For Démare, his most recent victory came as a surprise given that he struggled for the latter part of the race
"There was one year," Démare explained. "I planned to finish my season at Isbergues, and I won. I tend to do well in the north [of France].
"However, I must say that [today] I was not well. I spent the last 50 km way back in the peloton […] my teammates did not ask me any questions. They went back. They were waiting for me, without saying a word, and I got back [to the front].
"Then came the last kilometre, and when I see the finish line, I have no pain. For my family who was there for my parents, I am very happy."