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Demare outwitted in finale of Gent-Wevelgem

Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) admitted he was outwitted in the finale of Gent-Wevelgem, where he finished on the podium for the second time in his career.

The Frenchman, who finished second here in 2014, made it over the second and final ascent of the Kemmelberg in the front group of 23 riders, but lacked power in the sprint finish and could only manage third place behind Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).

He suggested the difference in freshness was down to the workload they each took on in the 30 kilometres that separated the finish line from the Kemmelberg. After initially keeping himself well hidden in the group as they battled to maintain their lead of around 30 seconds over a chasing group, Démare did come through for a couple of turns. Others, he suggested, did not.

"I did turns in the finale to avoid getting caught out in a split. Other more cunning riders didn't contribute and there's no doubt they took advantage of that in the sprint," he said.

Sagan's acceleration in the final couple of hundred metres was certainly resounding. Viviani was strong, too, but was let down by his positioning. Démare, meanwhile, was unable to sprint to his full potential.

"The sprint, that's my disappointment," he said. "I lacked punch and I'm not happy with it. My legs weren't super and it's a big disappointment."

After finishing second at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and third at Milan-San Remo, it's a third Classics podium for Démare. A source of frustration, perhaps, but also confirmation of his abilities in these kinds of races.

"It's the second time I've come here going for victory, as leader of FDJ. I felt good all day, and the two decisive passages of the Kemmelberg went well. My team had worked perfectly up until that point,' he said.

"There is no reward but I can comfort myself: the legs were good."

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Patrick Fletcher
Patrick Fletcher

Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.