Arnaud Démare and his lead-out train were not successful on the first sprinters’ stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday. Despite good teamwork in the last twenty kilometres to Sovicille, the French rider was unable to find his way through a hectic final and was therefore unable to sprint. His lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri kept going until the line and took ninth place on the day. Wednesday’s stage will offer another opportunity in Terni.

Following the opening time trial in Lido di Camaiore, the Tirreno-Adriatico bunch remained in Tuscany on Tuesday, but crossed the region from North to South heading to Sovicille, after no less than 219 kilometres. “On paper, the stage suited us well”, said Sébastien Joly. “It was a bit hilly and I think we also needed that to get the engine going again after the much less demanding stages in the UAE Tour”. Despite the long distance ahead, five runners embarked on the adventure from the first minutes: Johnatan Cañaveral, Davide Gabburo (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Umberto Marengo (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Davide Bais and Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo- Kometa). The peloton initially let it go completely, giving them a lead of nearly eight minutes, before setting a decent pace and logically coming closer. Sixty kilometres from the line, the two members of the Eolo-Kometa team went away together and therefore were the last men standing from the break. They eventually got caught with twenty kilometres to go, in the last non-categorized climb. Marc Soler then made an attack from the peloton, and the Groupama-FDJ took on the chase a few minutes later with Thibaut Pinot. “He showed great spirit as he came to give a hand,” added Sébastien. “We talked about this possibility at the briefing, and he did come to help at the top of the hill, when Soler had a good thirty-second lead. He kept going in the downhill also”.

“We’ll turn this frustration into rage and hunger”, Jacopo Guarnieri

The French climber gave his last pull shortly after entering the last ten kilometres and Arnaud Démare’s train then tried to stay well positioned at the front of the peloton. “We knew that the corner with three kilometres to go was really important, and we wanted Tobias and Antoine to lead the train until that point”, said Sébastien. “Unfortunately, all the efforts we made just before were kind of ruined because of a large parking lot on the side, where we got outflanked and boxed in”. “We did a good work to get back to the breakaway,” added Jacopo. “We were well together, but the road opened to the left and some riders took risks in order to overtake us. We then found ourselves in the middle of the bunch and it went really fast in the last three kilometres. The road was also very narrow, much more than we expected. We were a bit boxed in and we couldn’t find the right opening.” The lead-out man and his sprinter eventually stayed behind in this messy final. Jacopo Guarnieri eventually took ninth place ahead of Arnaud Démare, seventeenth. “It was going so fast with the tailwind, in this quite special last kilometre, which meant we couldn’t compete in the sprint, like others”, continued Sébastien. “The whole team was disappointed, that’s understandable, and it’s actually better that way”. “It’s frustrating that Arnaud didn’t sprint, but we’ll turn this frustration into rage and hunger for tomorrow, because we still have a good chance,” concluded Jacopo. “We need to be able to actually sprint, because if that’s so, I have no doubt that Arnaud can bring back the victory”.

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