Arnaud Démare of FDJ-BigMat not only finished last year wearing the rainbow jersey of the Espoir category, he has also started the 2012 season in style, already taking his fourth victory in Cholet-Pays de Loire on Sunday. Nothing seems to be able to stop the 20-year-old in his first year as a pro. He won a stage in the Tour of Qatar, the GP Samyn, a stage of the Three Days of West Flanders and now the French Cup event in Cholet.
Démare came into the finish in a small breakaway, which also included his teammates Pierrick Fédrigo and Mickaël Delage. "There was a big crash behind us and a gap opened up without us really wanting it," he told L'Equipe. "We outnumbered the others so we didn't think twice. Pierrick and Mickaël gave everything for me, so I couldn't disappoint them. I suprise myself every day, but right now, I do believe in myself enormously."
It is his fast finishing speed, combined with a cool-headedness in races that makes the talented Frenchman special, according to his directeur sportif. "He confirms his abilities at every race," FDJ director Thierry Bricaud explained. "Every time he's at the start, you get the impression that he will win. And the most impressive thing is that he knows how to handle this situation."
According to Bricaud, Démare has a bright career in front of him. "I don't think that we've already seen the whole extent of his talent. We will have to let him grow. Just like Kittel and Degenkolb [the rising stars of German sprinting - ed.], he's part of those riders who win as soon as they get the occasion."
Now FDJ and its new star are looking forward to the Belgian Classics, convinced that Démare also has what it takes for the Flandrian races. "To me, he's not only one of the great sprinters in the bunch, but also a rider able to win Classics. He's talented, fearless and full of self-confidence," Bricaud added.
Next Sunday, Démare will be at the start of Gent-Wevelgem, the first World Tour race of his career. "It will be an interesting experience," he said. "We'll see what I'm capable of doing. I don't have a lot of pressure, though. I'll be there to learn..."