French champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ) finally entered his home country in the blue-white-red national jersey during stage 3 of the Tour de France, but the 25-year-old sprinter seemed without a chance for the victory on the uphill finish of the Côte des Religieuses in Longwy.
The win indeed turned out to be impossible, but Démare did impress with a strong performance and a sixth place on the line. Démare is building confidence and hopes to claim the win on the sprinter's during stage 4 on Tuesday.
"It'll work out. If it's not tomorrow it'll be for the day after. Otherwise I'll keep trying until the Champs [Elysées] to get the win," Démare said while warming down in front of the team bus.
Before the stage, Démare told Cyclingnews that he knew the win was out of reach.
"It's a technical finish, though, and if I'm well-positioned I'll try to score points for the green jersey," he said at the time.
With his sixth place at the finish line and a 12th place in the intermediate sprint, Démare collected 19 points on stage 3, while stage winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) scored 36 points on the day. The French sprinter is now in second place in the points classification with 57, trailing Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) by nine points; Sagan is third with 50 points.
"Everything that's won is won," Démare said. "Having a bit a of an advantage on the others is good."
In Liège, Belgium, at the end of the second stage, Démare finished as runner-up behind Kittel. The unexpected sixth place in Longwy boosts his confidence. Still, there was room for improvement.
"At 10 kilometres from the finish, Konovalovas punctured. Mickaël Delage is out due to a crash [big crash of stage 2, ed.]. That's a few guys less. In the final we adapted well with the boys so that's good. Yesterday, I believed in my chances. Right now, I believe in my chances even more. If Mickaël is good tomorrow - I don't want to put pressure on him - then we've got everybody in front and that's an advantage," Démare said.
Regarding stage 4 from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel, Démare was sure it would be a festival for the sprinters in the Vosges region, home to Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), his rivaling sprinter in France.
"Tomorrow, it'll be a sprint. Everyday we're watching a video of the next stage in the hotel. It'll be a sprint. I know there'll be a few more corners than in Liège but I haven't studied it in detail just yet. It's Bouhanni's terrain? He already won chez moi, in my region, so that's no problem."
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