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”I was unlucky last year. Now I hope that the work is going to pay off and I'll catch up. I'll try to win the maximum this year. I hope to have a peak form at Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. These are my m...

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AG2R CITROEN TEAM

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ARNAUD DEMARE

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ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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JAN BAKELANTS

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LA MÉDITERRANÉENNE

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12.02.2016 @ 19:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Arnaud Demare (FDJ) got back on track after a disappointing 2015 season when he opened his account by winning the bunch sprint on stage 2 of La Méditeranéenne. After an excellent lead-out, his nearest rival turned out to be teammate Mickael Delage and as Matthieu Ladagnous crossed the line in fourth, it was only Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) who prevented an FDJ clean sweep of the podium. Demare also takes the leader’s jersey.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Successful Arnaud Demare: I hope to make up for last year’s bad luck

"This is a new collective victory after yesterday’s success in the team time trial,” Demare told Directvelo. “We controlled the entire race, in conditions that were not easy with lots of rain. He had to manage the finale and stay together. We began the final descent in front. We are not used to this kind of finale, with a descent to handle. There was a bend 200 meters from the line. We did what we wanted. We got the victory, 2nd place (Delage), 4th (Ladagnous)... 

 

”We did not get any help throughout the day. It is rather logical. In the end, we tried to make an echelon so the others came to take turns, but it did not help much. AG2R La Mondiale tried to accelerate in the finale. There were lots of roundabouts. We had to make big accelerations. This made the race harder and it was better for me. 

 

"It rained for three-quarters of the stage. It was a bit cold but the team did a great job. Already yesterday, I was very pleased with the success in the team time trial because it showed that we were all ready, focused and able to win. It gave us confidence in our cohesion. "

 

"Our two Norwegians chased for a long time and left their teammates quiet before the final. At 35 kilometers from the finish, we tried to make an echelon but there was not enough wind. I think that 30 to 40 riders were just behind. 

 

"Then in the finale, we accelerated and hardened the race in a series of roundabouts. The finishwas a bit special with a descent of one kilometer before 200m of flat roads. The sprint was really made before the final kilometer. We took the lead with Mika (Delage) and stayed there until the finish line. In addition, Mathieu Ladagnous takes fourth place. This is again a collective success. I am very happy to win, to start the season like this. It's mission accomplished. 

 

“I think it will be too difficult for me tomorrow. I'll just help Alexandre Geniez. I think the stages on Saturday and Sunday are not very attractive to me. I think we can already be satisfied with having won the team time trial and the sprint today. We'll have to think about working for Alexandre Geniez whosurely has the capacityto win the GC.

 

”I was unlucky last year. Now I hope that the work is going to pay off and I'll catch up. I'll try to win the maximum this year. I hope to have a peak form at Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. These are my major objectives. 

 

”I already wanted to win last week at the Etoile de Bessèges. I have good legs, I worked hard this winter. I want to win. It also reassures the team. It's good for the morale. I was already happy with the win yesterday because it was important to show that the team was strong. It is not for one man to win races. I finished the teamwork today, it's great! There is already a great atmosphere within the team and victories bring the rest. We now need to put a string together, but I think it's a good start."

 

Jan Bakelants shows great form in first race of the season

After the 7th place in the team time trial, Jan Bakelants showed that he is already in shape at his first race. He finished third in the sprint.

 

"It's good to start the season in this way,” he said. “Together with Alexis (Vuillermoz), I was protected today. We saw that the last five kilometers were sinuous. Cyril (Gautier) punctured at the end of the race and I maybe attacked too early as it cost me energy. Still, the team did a great job throughout the day when the conditions were not easy. “Everyone is super motivated. Tomorrow the second stage promises to be more difficult than today. This might suit us better.”

 

Kazakh domestique sprints to fifth in La Méditerranéenne bunch sprint

“As expected today stage finished with a bunch sprint,” said Astana’s Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev. I was feeling very good in the finale and I tried to escape at 2km to go. Unfortunately the group caught me back but I still had the energy to do the sprint.

 

“The fifth place in this final sprint is not a bad thing, considering the approach to the sprint itself. My legs responded pretty well when I accelerated so I’m confident for the next stages.”

 

Confusion over the distance makes it a frustrating day in the break for young German

Yannick Mayer (Veranclassic) spent the day in the breakaway.

 

"I did not really plan to escape but today the situation presented itself to me," he told Directvelo. "FDJ was riding in front and I thought why not. I attacked alone and the Italian (Luca Sterbini) joined me. It was better to be in front. It was much more dangerous in the bunch. I noted that in the finale when I had been caught. When it rains, it gets very slippery in the south of France. 

 

“We believed in victory. The stage was 157 kilometers long. At one point I looked at my computerand it said 149km and our lead was still 1'30''. I then said that we would go for the victory. And suddenly, I saw the 20 km to go mark. At that time, I thought ’shit’. Although themorale took a blow, we still continued to ride full gas. There was nothing else to do.”

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