Arnaud Démare wins Paris-Tours 2021

Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) snatched victory at Paris-Tours on Sunday, sprinting from a four-man group in a dramatic climax to the late-season Classic. 

The Frenchman only hit the front of the race inside the final 750 metres, having combined with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) to bridge across to the leading duo of Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels) and Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën). 

That pair had been out front for more than 40 kilometres, attacking from a reduced peloton that had been split in the crosswinds, and looked on course to contest the title between them as they ticked off the numerous gravel sectors and collaborated all the way to Tours. 

But they were hunted down as Démare and Stuyven themselves collaborated in the final 10km, making the junction with barely a moment to catch their breath for the sprint. Démare opened it up and sustained his power all the way to the line, with Bonnamour pipping Stuyven for the runner-up spot while Dewulf faded behind.

"I'm really happy, it's a lot of emotion," Démare said. "We know what I have been going through lately, no success, not the legs I wanted, today was a really ideal day. It was a sprint to the finish, I really didn't want to miss out. 

"We stayed for a long time with Stuyven at 10 seconds behind the two riders, we were all in it together. Finally we get in, I take the initiative to close the gap. I threw everything I had into it and it worked. I'm very happy."

Paris-Tours was once known as a sprinter’s Classic but the introduction of gravel tracks through the Vouvray vineyards a few years ago drastically altered the complexion of a race that has existed since 1896. Démare is a sprinter by trade but couldn’t rely on a bunch gallop. 

"I didn't think that this new course of Paris-Tours would suit me but everything turned out as I wanted," Démare said.

He was up front when Stuyven split the bunch on the long penultimate Peu Morier gravel sector with 20km to go, and then the pair of them went clear when Démare’s teammate Valentin Madouas accelerated on the slopes of the Côte de Vouvray soon after. They had Bob Jungels (AG2R) and Roger Adria (Kern Pharma) for company, and the 25-second gap to the front of the race became even more bridgeable when Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal), who’d been part of the original move with Dewulf and Bonnamour, punctured with 13km remaining. 

Still, cooperation was lacking, and Démare decided to issue a huge acceleration on the final climb of the Côte de Rochecorbon, to which only Stuyven could respond. The Belgian denied the first request for a turn but soon came through, and the pair worked faultlessly together to hunt down the leaders. 

They had them in sight in the final couple of kilometres and a couple of huge turns apiece saw them get across inside the final kilometre. After the briefest of lulls, the quartet sprang into action once again, and Démare still had enough left in the tank to make his finishing kick count. 

How it unfolded

The 212.3km route from Chartres to Tours was largely flat, with the gravel sectors and short climbs crammed into the final 50km. However, a stiff tailwind, with a hint of crosswind, made for a fast and furious day from the off. 

Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) and Julien Duval (AG2R Citroën) formed the early breakaway before Rune Herregodts (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) bridged across to make it a trio. Groupama-FDJ soon accelerated in an apparent attempt to spark echelons but then relented, allowing the breakaway to sail clear and carve out an eight-minute lead. 

However, with well over 100km still remaining, the pace in the peloton picked up markedly. After a long period of full-throttle riding, the wind struck in the right direction to split the race into echelons around 80km from home. The bunch ended up effectively split in two, with most of the big-name favourites present and correct in a front peloton of 35 riders. 

That leading group quickly swallowed up the breakaway and then hit the first of the nine gravel sectors with 50km remaining. Immediately, a new selection was made, with Bonnamour, Dewulf, and Frison going clear with Connor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic), but the latter wasn’t there for long as he fell victim to a puncture on the loose gravel. 

There was a regrouping in the main peloton as the leading trio opened up a lead of 45 seconds on the subsequent three sectors, with Trek-Segafredo and Groupama-FDJ the teams marshalling the peloton. FDJ looked to use the Côte de la Rochère climb with 29km to go as a launchpad to cut the deficit, dropping the defending champion Casper Pedersen (DSM) as the bunch split to pieces. 

That brought the gap down to 20 seconds but the front three rode strongly over the next two sectors and up the short climb that led into the Peu Morier sector - the longest of the race. It was there that Stuyven lit things up, going clear briefly with Démare, Madouas, Jungels, and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix). The bunch split to pieces and, although it did start to reform on the tarmac, the Côte de Vouvray was just around the corner and Madouas lit it up once again. 

Démare, Stuyven, Jungels, and Adria made it a chasing quintet, with the latter launching a brief attack with 15km to go. A couple of kilometres later, it was heartbreak for Frison, who punctured and had to watch the chasers sail past while he got a new wheel. 

The gap fell to 16 seconds but they started looking at each other and it went back out, offering a sliver of hope to what was now a two-man lead group. On the final climb with 11km to go, Démare took matters into his own hands, going well clear before Stuyven impressively worked his way up. 

The last 10km saw a dramatic two-on-two pursuit, with the catch being made in the home straight before Démare powered clear to finally win the French Classic where he’s twice been on the lower steps of the podium.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 4:33:07
2Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
3Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
4Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:03
5Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:00:40
6Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
7Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
9Julien Trarieux (Fra) Delko
10Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
11Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
12Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
13Samuel Leroux (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
14Valentin Tabellion (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
15Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
16Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies
17Urko Berrade Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
18Matis Louvel (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
19Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
20Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
21Bob Jungels (Lux) AG2R Citroën Team
22Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:44
23Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:22
24Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:25
25Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:01:27
26Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation 0:01:29
27Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
28Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
29Alan Riou (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
30Jérémy Leveau (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
31Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
32Kamil Malecki (Pol) Lotto Soudal 0:01:31
33Adrien Lagree (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
34Florian Maitre (Fra) TotalEnergies
35Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
36Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:20
37Jason Tesson (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
38Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
39Laurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
40Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
41Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
42Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Cofidis
43Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
44Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
45Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
46Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
47Mathias De Witte (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
48Unai Iribar Jauregi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
49Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team
50Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
51Niki Terpstra (Ned) TotalEnergies
52Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
53Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:02:25
54Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis 0:02:29
55Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
56Jens Reynders (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:04:34
57Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
58Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
59Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
60Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
61Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
62Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
63Romain Cardis (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
64Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
65Gijs Leemreize (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
66Michel Heßmann (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
67Mick van Dijke (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
68Tom Devriendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
69Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
70Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
71Morten Hulgaard (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
72Alexander Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo
73Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
74Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation 0:06:00
75Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
76Alexandre Delettre (Fra) Delko
77Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation 0:07:34
78Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
79Rune Herregodts (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
80Adrien Petit (Fra) TotalEnergies
81Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
82Clément Carisey (Fra) Delko
83Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
84Mathijs Paasschens (Ned) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB 0:10:05
85Nico Denz (Ger) Team DSM
86Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Delko
87Edward Planckaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
88Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
89Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
90Lars Saugstad (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
91Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM
92Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:12:50
93Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
94Sébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:12:53
95Alexis Renard (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation 0:13:30
96Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
97Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
98Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
99Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:14:16
100Nicolas Debeaumarche (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
101Donavan Grondin (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
102Danny van der Tuuk (Ned) Equipo Kern Pharma
103Pau Miquel Delgado (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
104Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis
105Tony Hurel (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
106Mulu Kinfe Hailemichael (Eth) Delko
107André Carvalho (Por) Cofidis
108Txomin Juaristi Arrieta (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
109Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis
110Scott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
111Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
112Erik Baska (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
113Dries Van Gestel (Bel) TotalEnergies
114Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
115Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
116Tom Paquot (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB 0:14:24
117Antonio Angulo Sampedro (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:21:22
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM
DNFNils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
DNFDaan Hoole (Ned) SEG Racing Academy
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNFMartin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFRüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFFabien Doubey (Fra) TotalEnergies
DNFNorman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFBaptiste Planckaert (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFKevin Ledanois (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFRasmus Tiller (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFJonas Abrahamsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFAnders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFEduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Delko
DNFAnthony Maldonado (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
DNFFlavien Maurelet (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
DNFMaximilien Picoux (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
DNFEmiel Vermeulen (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
DNFAlex Jaime Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
DNFIbon Ruiz Sedano (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
DNFNiklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM
DNFJakob Egholm (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNFLorrenzo Manzin (Fra) TotalEnergies
DNFGuy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFJonathan Hivert (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNFCyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNFKristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFAugust Jensen (Nor) Delko
DNFRuben Apers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFAaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFJokin Aranburu Arruti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFMikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFJoan Bou Company (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFFrancisco Galvan Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
DNSMorné Van Niekerk (RSA) St Michel-Auber 93
DNSJordan Levasseur (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole

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Patrick Fletcher
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor. 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 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, 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.

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