Ever since the 2011 U23 World Champion Arnaud Démare burst onto the pro scene with a victory in the final Tour of Qatar stage in 2012, he has become a force to be reckoned with. After a repeat in Doha this year and a fine second place in Gent-Wevelgem, the 22-year old has extended his contract with the FDJ.fr squad through the end of 2016.
Even with his recent performances, which include a 12th place at Paris-Roubaix after surviving a crash and two punctures, Démare said he didn't expect any other teams to make him offers, and decided that he would stick with the team which has fully supported him since he turned pro.
"I am very happy in the FDJ.fr team, very proud of the confidence they have shown me, and very happy to continue in this beautiful blue jersey," Démare said.
Although Démare emerged from the espoir ranks as a pure sprinter, he has also shown he can time trial with a 12th place in the 9.1km time trial in Tirreno-Adriatico, as well as rub shoulders with the best on the cobbles and bergs of the Classics. It has been a quick but natural evolution.
"The first year I did the Giro, it was impossible to overtake the rider in front of me in the sprints," he said. "Now I do not even question myself, and it goes much better. I'm suddenly a lot more fun during the race. At first, I was criticized for not fighting, but I could not, I was flat out. Now, being more lucid, I can see where to put the wheel... In Het Nieuwsblad I was enormously pleased to make the front of the race. In Gent-Wevelgem, on the two passages of Kemmel all went well. It was obvious that I have progressed."
That progression has resulted in a rider who calls himself a sprinteur-rouleur, one who can win races in a sprint, but also attack and ride away solo.
"When I was younger, people said, 'Démare is a sprinter, Démare is a sprinter' and one day it made me angry so in a race in Normandy, I attacked in the second lap and I ended up with a four minute lead. I always had that in mind when I was young. When I was a junior, I finished the Grand Prix Lilliers with a 1:20 lead. ... I love to sprint, it allows me to win races. I love the Classics. There are riders who are grimpeur-rouleur, but I am sprinteur-rouleur."
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