Arnaud Démare and Adrien Petit's double act paid rich dividends for France in the under 23 men's road race at the UCI World Championships on Friday after the sprinter and his lead-out man scored a famous one-two in Copenhagen.
Petit and Démare have been teammates at both Team Wasquehal and CC Nogent-sur-Oise in recent seasons, and the pair's innate understanding came to the fore when they expertly weighted their effort on the uphill drag to the line to thunder past Andy Fenn (Great Britain) in the bunch sprint, securing gold and silver for France.
"Adrien led me out to perfection, I had complete confidence in him," Démare said afterwards. "We took the last corner in 6th and 7th position. We waited a long time to launch our sprint because the false flat was quite hard. I passed him with 100 metres to go, and for him to take second place too, well, it's a double satisfaction."
Démare finished in 5th place in a similar bunch finish in Geelong twelve months ago, and he credited Petit's presence for making all the difference in the finale on Friday.
"In Australia, I went from 300 metres out and it was too early," he admitted. "This time, I had a fantastic lead-out man."
Silver medallist Petit explained that his role in the French team had been made very clear from the outset, and that he had and Démare had worked closely together in the run-up to the Worlds.
"When I was selected, it was to be Arnaud's lead-out man," Petit said. "We rode together at the Tour de Moselle recently and were able to iron out some more details afterwards before training together on the course in the last couple of days."
A stagiare with Cofidis in the latter part of the season, Petit got to see the Copenhagen circuit firsthand at the Tour of Denmark in August. "The last stage was on this circuit, and I saw that it was a finish that suited me," he said.
Petit looked to put some of the lessons from his taste of the professional ranks into practice at under 23 level during the race. "It was different to the pro races that I've gotten in the habit of riding with Cofidis," he said. "There were a lot of changes in rhythm, and I looked to avoid them because that wouldn't have suited us. In the finale, I told Arnaud to trust me, to take my wheel, and we succeeded in being well-placed."
Démare, meanwhile, confirmed that he has signed a contract with FDJ for next season after riding as a stagiare for Marc Madiot's squad over the past two months. "I rode the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, Paris-Brussels and the GP de Fourmies," he said. "Paris-Brussels was the first time that I did 220km. In the last half an hour, I was struggling, but I'll discover what kind of rider I am and what suits me."
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