With about 28 kilometres to go, Groupama-FDJ lost almost everything on Sunday on the Bemer Cyclassics in Hamburg. Following a massive crash in the bunch, Arnaud Démare and Jacopo Guarnieri could not continue, and only Bram Welten was able to follow a small peloton. However, five men stayed away after an attack with fifteen kilometres to go, and the Dutch rider then took a top-20 on the line (18th). Not a day to remember.

After a two-year absence on the calendar, the Hamburg Cyclassics was back this year to the sprinter’s delight. A winner of the race back in 2012, on his first professional season, Arnaud Démare had his lead-out train alongside him on Sunday in order to return to the top spot, ten years later. The day’s scenario was not the most surprising, since a trio made of Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana), Anthony Jullien (AG2R-Citroën) and Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo) led the way for most of the race, while the sprinters’ teams stayed in control at the back. Ide Schelling (Bora-hansgrohe) came to support the breakaway after the first time up to the Waseberg (900m at 7.7%), seventy kilometres from the finish, but the gap remained at one minute. The riders crossed the finish line twenty kilometres later, and then headed for the well-known hills sequence. The battle for positions proved to be more intense, but the turning point of the race occurred even before the first climbs of the final.

“The guys had done everything well”, Sébastien Joly

Twenty-eight kilometres from the line, a massive crash involved numerous riders, a small peloton got away, while Arnaud Démare was out. “Everything was going well until then”, explained Sébastien Joly later. “The crash happened in the front positions. The guys couldn’t do anything. Arnaud and Jacopo were the most affected”. Only Bram Welten was able to bridge across the main peloton, but five riders escaped from it, including Wout van Aert, on the last climb of the day. The fugitives managed to stay away, and the victory went to Marco Haller. A few seconds later, the Dutchman from Groupama-FDJ took eighteenth place. “In this kind of situation, it’s always good to stay focused, and that’s what he did,” said Sébastien. “He did a good race, he was in shape. From this difficult day, I’ll remember that there was good teamwork, motivation and determination. Until this crash, the guys had done everything well. We weren’t lucky today. It’s the first big crash of the year, we have to deal with it, but the most important thing is that the guys got by quite ok.”

Suffering from the lower part of the back, the former French champion went to take x-rays on Sunday. His Italian lead-out man is suffering from wounds in his left leg.

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