French sprinter Arnaud Démare has shown he is one of the fastest sprinters in the world by beating Lotto-Belisol's André Greipel on his home turf at the Hamburg Cyclassics. Other world class sprinters such as Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, in a hard race made even more difficult by blistering temperatures of more than 36° Celsius.
Démare, the 2011 U23 world champion, scored several important victories this spring but winning the Hamburg Cyclassics stands out as his greatest WorldTour feat so far, especially against such high-class rivals. "I'm super happy," the 20-year-old told L'Equipe after the event.
"It's really great. When you win a race, you look at who came second, and the second-placed rider is Greipel! It gives me lots of motivation for the end of the season. I had never won a sprint after 246 kilometres. And in this kind of heat! I suffered, I constantly poured water over myself. Everybody was completely worn out."
Martial Gayant, directeur sportif at FDJ, had taken the difficult conditions into account before the race. "We sensed that the riders' bodies would be numb. In the evening before the race, we talked. We knew that the high temperatures would make it split into pieces," Gayant said. In the end, only 23 riders formed the group sprinting for the victory, after Démare's teammate Matthieu Ladagnous was part of a mid-race breakaway.
Démare had a point to prove following a less successful period since the month if June, when his teammate Nacer Bouhanni snatched the title of French champion from him in an impressive one-two result for FDJ. "Arnaud just came out of the Giro, and one should not forget that everything took off quickly for Arnaud," Gayant continued. "He won early this year, and then everybody thought he'd continue like that, in every race. Then Nacer Bouhanni took over the reigns, even passing him. But the season's not over yet..."
With such rising stars as Démare, Bouhanni and promising climber Thibaut Pinot on its roster, FDJ manager Marc Madiot looks ahead to a bright future, without putting too much pressure on his youngsters. "For Démare, as well as for Pinot and Bouhanni, things move faster than we had planned. But their success is unavoidable," Madiot commented.