As Vincenzo Nibali sung the Italian national anthem on top step of the Milan-San Remo podium, Arnaud Demare looked up at him and smiled. The Frenchman won Milan-San Remo in 2016 and could fully understand the emotions the Sicilian was feeling after such an adrenalinic finish. Demare was disappointed to have finished third behind Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) in the sprint but was happy to have gone so close to a second Milan-San Remo victory.
"It's still a podium. If I'd have been fourth I'd have been slightly more disappointed even though I didn't win. So it's just a consolation, even if I can be satisfied. There are plenty of positives to take from Milan-San Remo," Demare said, analysing his race and that of a strong Groupama-FDJ team that was never afraid to hit the front, take control of the peloton and protect Demare.
"I'm happy with my form and that of my teammates, we were very strong. We were on the front the whole way up the Cipressa, but then we were knocked down a little on the Poggio.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to follow any attacks from Sagan, Kwiatkowski, or Alaphilippe, I wasn't sure if it was going to be the same scenario as last year. But with the headwind, I told myself not to move. I was convinced it would come back together and I had plenty of energy left for the sprint.
"In the final two kilometres, we were able to have someone solely riding to chase down Nibali and it was Davide Cimolai for us. He was meant to lead me out in the sprint but he sacrificed to try to make a victory possible. Quick-Step launched the sprint but didn't really work to drag Nibali back. Unfortunately, he was very strong and held off the peloton."