stage 11


In Rimini on Wednesday, Arnaud Démare took part in his fourth sprint in the 2020 Giro d’Italia, and he won… for the fourth time! After another perfect lead-out of his teammates in the finale, despite Ramon Sinkeldam’s abandon yesterday, the French champion proved too strong for Peter Sagan and Alvaro Hodeg, who were never able to overtake him. He becomes only the second Frenchman to collect four victories in a single Giro after Bernard Hinault. He also now cumulates 14 wins in 2020 and strengthens his leadership in the points classification.

“The perfect sprint”, Arnaud Démare

After an intense fight for nearly a hundred kilometers on Tuesday, Arnaud and his teammates eventually decided to stop chasing Peter Sagan in order to look to the next day, which was stage 11 towards Rimini, much more suited to the French champion. At the start in Porto Sant’Elpidio on Wednesday, Groupama-FDJ therefore quickly showed their ambitions. The day’s breakaway was barely formed, with Sander Armée (Lotto-Soudal), Mattia Bais (Androni Giocatolli-Sidermec), Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù-KTM), Fabio Mazzucco (Bardiani-CSF) and Francesco Romano (Bardiani-CSF) inside it, when the French team took control of the bunch. “We were down to six after losing Benjamin and Ramon,” recalled Ignatas Konovalovas. “Our problem was also that there was a good organisation in breakaway. At the beginning, we just wanted Kilian [Frankiny] to pull, but later we also needed to put Simon in order to close the gap”. Although the breakaway remained just three minutes ahead of the peloton for a long time, things did indeed get tense in the last twenty kilometers. Sander Armée went solo in the lead, and Elia Viviani crashed in the bunch, causing the end of the cooperation from Cofidis. “These events did not really destabilize us,” Sébastien Joly said. “Kilian and Simon did a great ride. We said at the start to Kilian that he would be riding for a very long time today, and he proved faultless.”

As Rimini got closer, more teams got interested in the sprint and the Belgian leader finally saw his gap dropping in a blink of an eye, and everything was back together about six kilometers from the finish. “We got a bit outflanked entering the city,” Arnaud admitted. “We then slowly came back up, turn after turn, but it was really tense”. “We knew that the last ten kilometers were complicated, with roundabouts, curves and narrowings,” added Jacopo Guarnieri. “We were maybe a little too far behind, but we stayed calm, united, and we knew there was a nice straight line with headwind from 2.5km to 600m to go, where we could produce our effort. Then, Kono was very strong and brought us back in the front. We even ended up there a little early, but Miles stayed calm, held his position and didn’t move until he needed to. He then showed what incredible job he was capable of doing and led us to the last corner. It was perfect, because I could start my effort at 400 meters. It was ideal”. With his cyclamen jersey, Arnaud Démare then finished it off with style. “As Miles did a very long pull, Jacopo was able to launch me a bit later”, he explained. “He was more explosive than usual and it allowed me to be launched with overspeed. When I’m clear enough, I try to do sprints that way. In the home stretch, I then waited, let a little space between Jacopo and me, and when I launched, I felt I had a lot of strength. I was afraid they would come back from behind but it was enough. It was really the perfect sprint today.”

“We wanted stage victories, but we did not give an exact number”, Sébastien Joly

After another great display from the team, Arnaud Démare therefore took his fourth win on this Giro, which no Frenchman except for Bernard Hinault managed to do in a single edition before him. He also increased his lead in the cyclamen jersey classification (36 points). The “Bella Vita” for the French champion and his mates is set to continue a little longer then. “It’s extraordinary,” he said with a big smile. “We came for stage wins, but we couldn’t imagine winning four! Hats off to the whole team! I am fortunate to have teammates who truly believe in me. Work pays off and today we got the rewards for it”. “We’re having fun, and we already have four victories in eleven stages, plus the cyclamen jersey,” Jacopo said. “That’s wonderful. Arnaud is not only a great rider but also a great teammate. The team cohesion is very strong”. A sports director of the team in Italy, alongside Jussi Veikkanen and Benoit Vaugrenard, Sébastien Joly added: “The word that best defines this group is serenity. You can really feel that this group is calm and that they know where they are heading. Our number 1 goal on this Giro is stage victories. But when we got here, we did not give an exact number. We shouldn’t set ourselves limits, and we must continue with this state of mind. There will still be opportunities, for sure, but we take it day by day. That’s what we’ve been doing from the start and it works for us. There is already a difficult stage ahead of us tomorrow. We will take stock after”.

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