On Marc Madiot’s lands, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team almost achieved a “Grand Slam” on the Boucles de la Mayenne this week. On Sunday, Arnaud Démare took the fourth and final stage in Laval, also securing his victory overall. On the right track, just like his entire lead-out train, in anticipation of the Tour de France, the French champion scored his 6th and 7th victories this season and brought the team’s record to twelve wins.

“The icing on the cake”, Arnaud Démare

As usual, the Boucles de la Mayenne was set to finish in Laval on Sunday. Arnaud Démare took the start of this fourth and final stage with the yellow jersey on his shoulders and headed to a first third of the race quite demanding. “It was a tough day,” he said. “For seventy kilometers, the other teams made us suffer. It was a really hard start and the fight lasted two hours before a group finally went. We had to control and try to use our energy well. The rest of the peloton didn’t know if we were going to pull. Eventually, as a rider in the break was thirty-three seconds down on GC, we had to, but if they had been further in the rankings, we might have let it go.” After the climb of Pas de Pierre, a trio made up of Alexandre Delettre (Delko), Roger Adria (Equipo Kern Pharma) and Ludwig De Winter (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) got away. Immediately, Clément Davy took the lead of the bunch to set the pace with the Uno-X squad. The advantage of the escapees was therefore constantly maintained under the three-minute mark, and although some counter-attacks occurred, none succeeded.

After quite a smooth chase, the peloton caught the breakaway with fifteen kilometres to go, shortly before crossing the line for the first time in Laval. On the technical final circuit, several riders tried to get a step ahead but the pack never let anyone go and therefore headed for yet another big sprint. A bit blocked at first, Arnaud Démare’s lead-out train really took position with two kilometres to go in the wake of Miles Scotson, who passed the flamme rouge in the lead before leaving Ramon Sinkeldam and Jacopo Guarnieri finish off the work. “It was quite hectic,” said Arnaud. “We suffered a bit on the circuit. We also felt the previous days’ efforts and there was a strong fight for positions. Still, we fought well and we made it. It was close, but we made it.” About 150 metres from the line in the slight uphill finish, the French champion opened his sprint and then managed to hold against his competitors, especially Dan McLay. “The first goal was to secure the general classification, which we did,” added Arnaud. “The victory is just the icing on the cake”.

“The whole group is performing at the right level and is in good shape”, Frédéric Guesdon

A winner of the last three stages and of the overall, Arnaud Démare brings to Marc Madiot his first victory as a team manager in his “home” Boucles de la Mayenne. “It was simple on paper, but complicated on the road as it’s difficult to control the race with teams made of six riders,” said the Renazé native. “The balance is obviously very positive,” added Frédéric Guesdon, sports director throughout the stay in Mayenne. “We came here to enable Arnaud and his group to taste victory again. We were not overconfident though, because it was a returning race for them and we know that it is never easy to win these events. You have to be able to control. We failed a bit on the first day when Arnaud clearly could take victory, but the guys then put things right by winning the next three stages and the GC. The homeboy Clément Davy completely fulfilled his role, but the whole group is performing at the right level and is in good shape. We are now heading to the Route d’Occitanie, where we will try to win another one, adjust the last details for the Tour but also do a bit of climbing, because we need it too…” “We have the Tour in our sights, that is our main goal,” concluded Arnaud Démare. “The Boucles de la Mayenne was on our way in order to get ready, gain confidence and pile up victories. It’s done. Now let’s keep going!”

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