Arnaud Démare is hoping to return to the Tour de France in 2021 and the Frenchman maintains that it is possible for a team to combine sprint and general classification aspirations at La Grande Boucle.
Groupama-FDJ left Démare out of their line-up for the past two editions of the Tour, preferring to focus on Thibaut Pinot’s tilt at the overall title. Despite missing this year’s Tour, Démare enjoyed a fine 2020 campaign, winning 14 races. His haul included four stage victories at the Giro d’Italia, where he also claimed the points classification.
Démare won a stage in each of his past two Tour appearances in 2017 and 2018, and the 29-year-old is eager to return to the race next July, when the route should offer ample opportunities to the fast men.
"The fact that I want to be there has been discussed. We’ll see how it turns out, but I definitely see myself on the Tour next year," Démare told Cyclismactu (opens in new tab).
Démare cited the examples of UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma as evidence that it is possible for a team to field a sprinter while focusing on the general classification at the Tour.
"If you look at Alexander Kristoff and Tadej Pogačar this year, it’s been done. It’s the same for Wout van Aert and Primož Roglič at Jumbo-Visma, even if I need more people around me than Van Aert," said Démare. "I think it’s doable. You need the right racing circumstances and success on both sides, but it’s not unthinkable in any case."
The coronavirus pandemic interrupted the 2020 season for four months and Démare is mindful of the difficulties inherent in sketching out a race programme for the new campaign.
"With all the races that are being cancelled, it’s complicated right now to start a programme," he said. "Instead of being very concentrated like in 2020, there might be some periods of two or three weeks without racing."
Démare was quickly up to speed when the 2020 season resumed in August. In that month alone, he won Milano-Torino and the French Championships, and dominated both the Tour de Wallonnie and the Tour Poitou-Charentes, setting the tone for what was to follow on the Giro. He insisted that his success was also due to the strength of his lead-out train, which he claimed was the strongest in the world.
"It’s clear that it is. The others know it and they’re looking at us," Démare said. "We saw that on Milano-Torino, the Giro d’Italia and all the other races. We were always present at the front and we knew how to adapt when we needed, according to the parcours."
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