In Dubai on Thursday, on stage 4 of the UAE Tour, Arnaud Démare did not get the opportunity to really show his legs. The Groupama-FDJ sprinter finished beyond the top-10 in what was a highly contested mass sprint, where he never found his way through. Two other opportunities will come in the next two days for the former French champion.

The home stretch specialists were to return in the spotlight this Thursday, on the fourth day of racing in the Emirates. One hundred and seventy-four kilometres were on the day’s menu, and the elevation gain was almost non-existent. As for the wind, it was not as intense as during the opening stage and was therefore not expected to have a real impact on the race. “It was the traditional stage of Dubai, as we had to cross the city from North to South passing by the Universal Exhibition”, specified Sébastien Joly. Despite a predictable outcome, Alexis Baudin (AG2R-Citroën), Samuele Zoccarato and Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizenè) decided to take the front and led the stage until the last ten kilometres. Very much in control, the bunch eventually easily caught the fugitives three kilometres from the line, and the preparation for the long-awaited sprint could take place. “This morning we had a good look at the footage of the women’s UAE Tour, which offered the same finish,” added Sébastien.

“Good things have been put in place”, Sébastien Joly

Due to the large competition of sprinters, many trains battled in the final minutes to position at the front. Ignatas Konovalovas also tried to move up Laurence Pithie, Bram Welten and Arnaud Démare. “We had planned to come from the back in the last kilometre, which the guys managed to do rather well”, said Sébastien. “Unfortunately, we did not find a gap before the home stretch and Arnaud couldn’t really sprint.” The French rider remained slightly in the back in this fast sprint, and eventually took 16th place without really launching his effort. “We will have a video debriefing tomorrow morning in order to improve what we can,” commented Sébastien. “Arnaud still said that there were good things. Certainly, the result is not what we hoped for, but tactically, good things have been put in place for the first time with this new group, in particular with Laurence and with Bram as a last lead-out man”.

Michael Storer finished in the peloton, retaining his 21st place overall, while two more opportunities are to come for Arnaud Démare and his train.

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