The collection starts again for the French champion. After a tough opening stage on Tuesday, Arnaud Démare found his way back to victory in the second stage of the Tour de Luxembourg on Wednesday. After a very special day, during which the peloton neutralized the race for 100 kilometers due to a lack of safety, the Frenchman made the most of a good teamwork to get his tenth win of the season, making him the most successful rider of the international peloton.
“A few cars entered the race’s course and everyone got angry”, Frédéric Guesdon
No less than 160 kilometers were on the menu of the Tour de Luxembourg’s second stage between Remich and Hesperange on Wednesday. Eventually, the riders only did 60 kilometers of racing: the first twenty and the last forty. In-between these two sections, the bunch got united and imposed neutralization due to insufficient safety on the race. “It was quite a special day, confirmed Frédéric Guesdon. From the start, some went to complain to the commissaires after the problems that occurred during yesterday’s stage. We then entered a circuit of twenty kilometers and a few cars entered the race’s course. It made everyone angry and a few guys stepped forward to say “this is enough, let’s stop before it gets too serious!”. It just happened quite quickly, and everyone got it pretty well, including the organizers after a twenty-minute discussion. It’s not really their fault, because it’s not easy to control everything in Luxembourg. The rules are different and it’s difficult to completely block the roads and put people at every intersection”.
“It’s a shame that it happens here, because there is everything to have a great race: great roads, great courses, great weather, a great field. Let’s say that there was no accident, that the neutralization happened early enough so that is the main thing,” Frédéric concluded on the topic. “We know that it’s hard to organize races currently, and it is all the more difficult to give a rant”, confessed Arnaud. “Unfortunately, security was not enough, neither yesterday nor this morning and all the riders found it logical to protest. Our sport is quite dangerous, it should not be made even more complicated with cars on our way”. Following this unanimous decision, accepted by the organization and the commissaires, the riders then progressed for a hundred kilometers without actually racing. “When the neutralization started, we thought it was going to be long,” admitted Frédéric. “Actually it did not feel that long. It eventually passed quite quickly with the good roads and scenery. It was done at a decent pace and we were able to refuel the riders 2-3 times before arriving on the final circuit”. The 20-kilometer circuit was to be repeated twice and included a short climb. “It was a 500-meter climb at 6-7%. We knew Arnaud was going to get over it, and moreover the finish was not at the top. In case of, we could always come back after, we weren’t worried.”
“Being the world most successful rider is quite symbolic”, Arnaud Démare
However, the team had to be ready for a fierce last hour of racing. “Little by little, the guys got back in the race context,” explained Frédéric. “We knew it was going to start again very fast, so we had to be up and running right away and that’s what they managed to do.” A few attacks naturally came from the peloton, but the latter never left much room, in particular thanks to Ignatas Konovalovas for Groupama-FDJ. The whole team finally got back in front of the bunch in the wake of the Luxembourg champion Kevin Geniets, as they entered the last ten kilometers, in order to tackle the final climb in the best conditions. Arnaud Démare and the last three men on his train were able to get over it in a good position and then organize themselves for the sprint. Miles Scotson took the lead ahead of Ramon Sinkeldam, Jacopo Guarnieri and their leader. “Arnaud still had some guys by his side and they really did their job at the right time,” said Frédéric.
The Groupama-FDJ lead-out train did not drop from the front row during the last kilometre and Arnaud Démare was thus perfectly launched with 200 meters to go. Behind him, Jasper Philipsen never seemed able to come back up. “There was great team work,” said the French champion. “We knew that the last 500 meters were very tortuous, we were in front and no one pulled us back. It’s the clearest sprint I’ve been able to make since the start of the year. At no time was I rubbed in the last kilometre, it was a very clean sprint. This is my tenth victory of the season; it’s amazing. Being now the world most successful rider is also quite symbolic, it means something”. “It’s no surprise,” Frédéric said. “We know that Arnaud has the qualities to net a large number of victories over a year”. At the top of his game since the season restarted at the end of July, Arnaud Démare will have the opportunity to add an eleventh victory on Thursday. “We will see from day to day, and even if it will be a little more complicated tomorrow, I think it is still doable for Arnaud”, concluded Frédéric.