Another second place in a Flemish race for Arnaud Démare, but unlike his satisfaction with his performance at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, the FDJ.fr man admitted that he was disappointed to have lost out to Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) at the end of stage 2 of the Three Days of De Panne.
"I'm getting a lot of second places right now. At the start, I was satisfied enough but now it's beginning to weigh a little bit," Démare told Cyclingnews in Koksijde. "I'd like to take more of an advantage of the legs I have at the moment."
The 22-year-old Frenchman has been hugely consistent since the beginning of the season, but has recorded just one win to date - on the final stage of the Tour of Qatar - and had already endured near misses at the Volta ao Algarve and Tirreno-Adriatico before arriving in Belgium.
Démare was locked onto Modolo's wheel in the finishing straight but found himself slightly blocked just as the Italian launched his sprint. That instant of hesitation proved fatal to Démare's chances and he was unable to get back on terms, although he did succeed in holding off Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) for third, while a disappointed Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) had to settle for eighth.
"It was a very fast sprint and very hard fought too, you had to fight for position," Démare said. "My teammates Matthieu Ladagnous and Mickaël Delage sacrificed themselves in front for me so I'm a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to finish off their work with a win."
The second stage of the Three Days of De Panne, which traditionally brings the race back the North Sea coast, is usually a more straightforward affair than the previous day's leg. On Wednesday, however, Omega Pharma-QuickStep's forcing on the Kemmelerberg put an altogether different complexion on the race.
Overnight leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale) quickly sat up while the 32-strong group formed over the summit would stay clear all the way to Koksijde. Then, on the finishing circuit, matters were complicated still further when Oscar Gatto, Niki Terpstra and new leader Gert Steegmans powered off the front, and the trio was only pegged back in the closing kilometres.
"It was hard on this stage last year, too, but it came back together because of the wind," Démare said. "I was ready for it. I think a lot of people knew what was coming so it was a case of being well-placed. It was very tough. There were five Omega riders up there, three Katushas and ourselves. The pace was high."
Sagan, incidentally, pulled out before the end of the stage in order to save himself for Sunday's Tour of Flanders. Démare, too, will be hoping to perform at De Ronde, but with another sprint likely on Thursday's morning stage in De Panne, he said that he would have to discuss his options with team manager Marc Madiot. "I'll talk about it with Marc this evening and we'll see," he said.
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