Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) has pulled out of Paris-Nice ahead of the penultimate stage with his team citing the poor weather and accumulated fatigue for the decision. It may be called the race to the sun but low temperatures and heavy rain are expected over the closing weekend of the race.
With this in mind, Groupama-FDJ confirmed on Saturday morning that Demare would not take the start of stage 8. The Frenchman now turns his focus back to the Classics, with Milan-San Remo his next major target on March 17. Demare won the Italian Monument in 2016.
Demare took the team's first victory in their new Groupama-FDJ colours on stage 1 of Paris-Nice, beating Gorka Izagirre in a photo finish after an uphill sprint to the line. Thanks to his victory, Demare spent two days in the leader's jersey before giving it away to Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) after stage 3. He was still the leader of the points classification, leading Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) by three points.
"Considering the bad weather forecast for the Paris-Nice final weekend and regarding the fatigue accumulated since the beginning of the week, Groupama-FDJ sports directors and team doctor Jacky Maillot confirm that Arnaud Démare, winner of the first stage, will not be starting the race this morning. He will be at Milan-San Remo next Saturday and then back on Flanders Classics," the team wrote on Saturday morning.
Groupama-FDJ doubled their tally of victories on stage 6 with Rudy Mollard making the most of his lower position in the general classification to jump the overall contenders and take the stage win. It has been a hugely successful Paris-Nice for the home nation with Direct Energie also taking two victories, making it four wins from six for France.
Paris-Nice will conclude on Sunday, March 11 with the final two stages putting the general classification riders to the test before the finale into Nice. Sanchez currently leads the overall classification 22 seconds ahead of Alaphilippe.
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