With Thibaut Pinot unable to ride the Tour de France due to the fatigue and pneumonia that forced him to quit the Giro d’Italia before the final stage in Rome, the Groupama-FDJ team have confirmed that Arnaud Démare will lead the French team and target sprint success, with 21-year-old David Gaudu replacing Pinot as the team’s best climber and making his Tour de France debut.
The eight-rider line-up also includes Jacopo Guarnieri, Olivier Le Gac, Ramon Sinkeldam and Tobias Ludvigsson, who will provide Démare’s lead out train, while Arthur Vichot and Rudy Molard will have the freedom to target stage victories when the stages do not suit Démare. Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot is hoping Démare can also impress on the stage 9 to Roubaix that includes nine sections of cobbles of the spring Classic.
Démare won stage 2 of the 2017 Tour de France but then struggled on stage 9 to Chambery, finishing outside the time limit with three teammates. He recently won stage 8 of the Tour de Suisse, beating Fernando Gaviria, Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan.
Gaudu showed his potential by winning the 2016 Tour de l'Avenir and made his professional debut in 2017. The Breton climber needed nine stitches in a hand wound during the opening team time trial of the Criterium du Dauphine but fought the pain to finish the race, even going on the attack in the final mountain stages. In the spring he extended his contract with Groupama-FDJ until the end of 2020.
“We are obviously disappointed by the absence of Thibaut Pinot because everyone knows his qualities and the ambition we had with him,” Madiot said last week when it was confirmed that Groupama-FDJ would be without Pinot.
“Arnaud Démare is a sure bet, and the ambitions of the team remain strong. While David Gaudu is certainly young, he has a huge talent and is already doing well. In 2012, Thibaut Pinot was in the same situation and we know what happened. I have great confidence in the collective.”
Groupama-FDJ for the Tour de France (French unless stated): Arnaud Démare, David Gaudu, Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita), Olivier Le Gac, Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned), Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe), Arthur Vichot and Rudy Molard.