Two years later, Arnaud Démare, his teammates and the whole Groupama-FDJ cycling team regained the honours of the Giro d’Italia. On Sunday in Verona, the 2022 edition of the Corsa Rosa came to an end, and the French sprinter not only came away with three stage wins but also with the cyclamen jersey for the points classification. He therefore had the opportunity to step on the final podium with his teammates in the Verona’s Arena, which gave a perfect conclusion to the incredible past three weeks.
“The wheel of fortune turned”, Arnaud Démare
What better place than Verona to illustrate the love story between Arnaud Démare and the Giro d’Italia. As in 2019, the Giro ended with a time trial of about 17 kilometres in the Veneto city, and as in 2020, the rider from Picardy proved to be one of the main race’s protagonists. On Sunday, Matteo Sobrero won the twenty-first and final stage, Jai Hindley secured his overall victory and the entire Groupama-FDJ cycling team completed the 3,445 kilometres of this 2022 edition. And they did with quite a record: three stage wins, in Messina, Scalea and Cuneo, as well as the cyclamen jersey. “I wouldn’t have imagined this at the start in Hungary”, said Arnaud, who confessed a small preference for his last win, conquered after a hard fought stage. “I am very happy. We also finished with eight riders, that’s also a big satisfaction. It’s great to win the points classification again. To do that, you surely have to be good in the sprints, but you also have to handle the mountains, be patient and be strong mentally. It is always difficult to repeat a performance. We enjoy it in a different way than the first time. In 2020, everything was going well for us. This year, we came to the Giro after a disappointing start to the season for the group, and even a disappointing 2021 season. We all worked hard before the Giro d’Italia, and the wheel of fortune turned. What shows is the most is perhaps my second stage win, which came down to the bike throw. The photo finish was on our side. You fall. You get back up. That’s the beauty of sport. We experience exceptional emotions. We always push ourselves to the limit, but when it goes well and that you are in front of everyone after a great work from your team, it creates moments that bind us for life!”
“A family going into the same direction“, Clément Davy
One rider will remember his first Grand Tour for a while. At 23 years old, former Conti rider Clément Davy completed his first three-week race on Sunday, with a lot of memories and emotions in the bag. “Before even talking about sport, I was hoping for a human adventure, and that’s what I really experienced throughout this month with the seven riders and the staff,” said the young man. “We were really a family going into the same direction, for the performance. My best memory is probably the fifth stage, because it was our first victory. It was a relief. Even though we were aware of what we could do, we hadn’t managed to win at the beginning of the season. The scenario was crazy, with this climb and then the chase in the downhill to come back into the peloton… When I learnt that Arnaud had pulled it off that day, I had tears in my eyes because it was a liberation”. Often riding at the front of the bunch for his leader, Clément Davy also joined a breakaway in the last week of the race, on the penultimate mountain stage, where he was a precious support to Attila Valter. He then proved that he was not reaching the end of his rope yet.
“Sportingly speaking, I am obviously very happy with the team’s Giro, but I am also happy on a personal level,” he added. “I learned a lot about myself during these three weeks and I think I am leaving it with an almost better shape than when I started it. I feel like I’ve made progress, despite the fatigue. I can’t wait to see how it will be after the Giro because I’ve always been told that the first Grand Tour changes a rider. I want to thank all the staff who took care of us for three weeks. This is also what allows us to perform well on the bike”. Sébastien Joly, already a sports director in the 2020 exceptional edition, has experienced another Great Giro for the team these last few weeks. “It was a very beautiful Giro,” he insisted. “The riders showed self-sacrifice, and that was our main watchword at the start. Apart from the three victories and the cyclamen jersey, I am happy that we were able to bring our eight riders to Verona. It shows that they are in good shape, and it also allowed them to share these emotions with Arnaud during the ceremony this evening. It was important. Some of them hadn’t experienced it yet. At the end of this Giro, I remember all the hard work done beforehand. Everyone questioned himself on various aspects after a difficult start to the season. The riders recovered well, worked hard, and the staff also did a huge work to put them in the best possible conditions”.
“A collective strength above all”, Sébastien Joly
To complete the assessment of this historic Giro, Sébastien couldn’t resist to paying tribute to his riders one by one. “Clément is the revelation of this Giro”, he began. “He shows that he has passed a milestone physically since the beginning of the year. He is now really integrated in the group. Tobias was extremely motivated to be with us in this Giro and he contributed a lot to the team’s energy and success. I’m also happy that we got to see the Kono we used to know, the one able to ride very fast and very hard in order to ideally position the train. Miles lived up to our expectations. He keeps bringing his ability to make the difference in the crucial moments. Ramon is also the very good surprise of this Giro. He has worked a lot to reach his current level, both in the lead-out train and in the mountains. He is a hard worker, he is now rewarded, and we are very happy for him. I think he’s got his confidence back after leading Arnaud out in the first win. Jacopo has been his usual self as the master of the train. He is a rider on whom we rely a lot in terms of strategy. As for Arnaud, he is clearly at the top of his game physically, and he continues to improve. He has been rewarded for all his hard work and he is on the right track for the rest of the season. As far as Attila is concerned, he contributed a lot to each victory, and that is very significant. When a rider is there for the mountain stages and still gives his best for the sprinters, it’s noteworthy. Every single time, the seven riders made it possible for Arnaud to win. In conclusion, it was a collective strength above all”.