The 57th edition of Tirreno-Adriatico ended on Sunday on a frustrating note for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. Although Thibaut Pinot secured his eighth place overall, Arnaud Démare did not get the chance to fully sprint in San Benedetto del Tronto. Boxed in against the barriers in the last meters, the former French champion was forced to stop his sprint and therefore crossed the line in ninth position.

After Thibaut Pinot’s great day on Monte Carpegna, Groupama-FDJ hoped to finish Tirreno-Adriatico on a high by the Adriatic Sea, in San Benedetto del Tronto. A massive sprint was expected at the end the hundred and sixty kilometres of racing, and Arnaud Démare’s teammates immediately took their responsibilities when a trio including Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) and Jorge Arcas (Movistar) went away after five minutes. “After Arnaud’s good second place on stage three, we decided to take control of the race today,” explained Sébastien Joly. “A few teams joined us to lead the chase and we asked Antoine to pull behind the three fugitives. He really did a very good job.” The gap very briefly went over the three-minute mark, but the bunch then always remained quite close from the day’s breakaway. Seventy-five kilometres from the finish, the riders entered the final circuit, which had to be completed five times, and the trio’s advantage continued to reduce as the laps progressed. Later, as the bell rang to announce the last lap, just two riders were still in the front with just a 20-second gap. “In the final, when the last two guys from the break tried to pick up the pace, Tobias took over and everything was fine until then,” added Sébastien.

“Even though he was boxed in, a top-5 was possible”, Sébastien Joly

The breakaway was finally caught eight kilometres from the line, and the Groupama-FDJ’s lead-out train was still at the head of the pack at that point. Things got more difficult when the sprint preparation started a few minutes later. “Just before the last three kilometres, the other trains came to the front and we got a little outflanked,” observed Sébastien. “Jacopo then did a good job for Arnaud and managed to bring him back in the last kilometre”. The French sprinter passed the flamme rouge in the first ten positions and managed to get back into the wheels of his rivals in the long final straight, so to fight for victory. Unfortunately, the sprint did not go as expected. “Arnaud managed to launch his sprint but he was boxed in by one of his competitors on the left,” said Sébastien. “Due to the bad road state, his chain also jumped off and could not deliver a proper sprint. Before that, even though he was boxed in, a top-5 was possible. It’s a shame because he did a very aggressive sprint and that’s a missed opportunity today”. As he was forced to stop pedalling before the line, the Groupama-FDJ sprinter had to settle for ninth place while Phil Bauhaus found the right space to get the win. “The positive thing is that we know he is going well and that he is able to get a good result next Saturday in Sanremo”, added Sébastien.

As for Thibaut Pinot, he completed his day inside the peloton and therefore secured his eighth place overall. “For him, that’s a really good week”, concluded Sébastien. “He was there to test himself, to get some habits back, and that’s what he did day by day. He progressed crescendo and came away with a very nice top-8 overall in this Tirreno. Tonight, as he leaves San Benedetto, he feels really at peace and very motivated for the next races”.

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