Even though, as we have reported last week, Arnaud Demare have recently gained some advantage over his fellow countryman in the internal rivalry between the FDJ.fr sprinters, the 22-year old Frenchman revealed that he gets increasingly irritated by numerous near misses obtained this season after he has recorded yet another runner up spot in the second stage of Driedaagse De Panne today.
Today, Demare proved once again that he is much more than just a sprinter when he managed to stay in the front group after Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders wreaked havoc in the peloton by dictating a furious pace on Kemmelberg. However, it wasn’t enough to take the spoils when the second stage of Driedaagse De Panne came to its conclusion as the 22-year old Frenchman wasn’t able to match the pace of Sacha Modolo perfectly led-out by his team-mate Maximiliano Richeze and eventually finished runner-up behind the Lampre-Merida sprinter.
Since it was fourth second place obtained in bunch sprints this year with only one victory to date claimed in his season’s opening Tour of Qatar, FDJ.fr sprinter couldn’t hide disappointment with his latest inability to transform his undisputable consistency and team-mates’ dedication into stage wins.
"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."
Demare was forced to count only on himself in today’s bunch sprint as his FDJ.fr team-mates Matthieu Ladagnous and Mickael Delage sacrificed themselves earlier during the stage. Even though the 22-year old Frenchman seemed well positioned on Modolo’s wheel when a long sprint was launched, a short moment of hesitation cost him dearly and as a result he was unable to match the pace of Lampre-Merida rider perfectly led-out by Richeze.
Still, it proved enough to hold off in-form Milano-Sanremo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), while uncharacteristically deserted Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) finished with disappointing eight spot after getting boxed in.
"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."
Even though Demare ended up disappointed by another near miss in today’s finale, the Dreidaagse De Panne’s longest stage served as another proof of his potential as a promising rider for cobbled classics when he firmly hung on in the leading group prevailing the carnage made by Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders.
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 Kemmelberg put an altogether different complexion on the race.
Although usually a route with all major climbs situated in the middle part and followed by flat finale offers no big excitement, Demare expected some dramatic scenario to develop relying from his last year’s experience.
"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."
A group of riders, spearheaded by Peter Sagan (Cannondale), decided to withdraw from competition before its ultimate day in order to regain freshness ahead of the Ronde van Vlaanderen in coming Sunday. The 22-year old French sprinter was considering similar move and according to the startlist updated by procyclingstats.com, he will not line up at the start tomorrow morning.
"I'll talk about it with Marc this evening and we'll see," he said.
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