Demare emulates Gilbert with back-to-back victory
October 9 th 2022 - 17:06
Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) retained his crown in Tours on Sunday, outsprinting the peloton on Avenue de Grammont to score the first back-to-back double in the last classic of the season since Philippe Gilbert in 2009. The Frenchman, who perfectly managed the 10 dirt-road sections on the course, surged in the final stretch to outpower Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Exard Teuns (Trek Segafredo). Gilbert, who finished 27th, was riding the very last race of his career.
Farewell to Gilbert
160 riders started from Chartres, where an homage was paid to 2008 and 2009 winner Philippe Gilbert, who retired today. Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels), Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X) and Clement Carisey (Go Sport) attacked from the gun and had to wait for 30 km for the peloton to give them the go-ahead as the gap grew over three minutes.
Mael Guegan (Team U-Nantes Atlantique) and Romain Cardis (St Michel-Aubert 93) chased behind the leading trio and caught them at kilometre 33.
After 25 km, Benoit Cosnefroy (Ag2R-Citroen) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates were involved in a crash but were quickly back on their bikes and in the bunch. Hugo Hostetter also crashed later but was unhurt.
Philipsen and De Lie out after crashes
The lead of the five escapees increased to reach 6:45 after 90 km over a peloton led by the Groupama-FDJ and Alpecin-Deceuninck outfits. With 100 km completed, Niki Tersptra (Total Energies), who is retiring this season, and Ben Turner (Ineos Grenadiers) crashed in turn but were able to make it back in the pack. Another crash shortly before the first path involved Sebastian Langeveld, Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-Easypost) and Shane Archbold (Bora-Hansgrohe). The most massive pile-up took place shortly before the first vineyard path and the most seriously hurt was Alpecin-Deceuninck leader Jasper Philipsen, who was treated on the spot by the medical service. Among the riders to call it quits after the several crashes were Brent van Moer and Arnaud de Lie (both Lotto-Soudal).
The crashes and punctures on the first gravel sections scattered the peloton and at the end of the first dirt road, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Kim Heiduk (Ineos Grenadiers) parted with the pack to chase behind the escapees. Seven other riders – Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), Tim Van Dijke (Jumbo-Visma), Antoine Raugel (Ag2R-Citroen), Rui Alves Oliviera (UAE), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels), Clement Russo (Arkea-Samsic) and Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo) – also broke to try and close the gapwith the break. With 50 km left, Bennett, Heiduk, Le Gac, Russo and Kirsch were the only five men left in the chase.
Démare makes it two
Gougeard was dropped by his four breakaway companions in the Cote de la Rochere (km 185) while Carisey punctured, leaving only Abrahamsen, Guegan and Cardis in the front with 25 km to go. The trio held their ground until Abrahamsen decided to try his luck on his own with 12 km to go. The Norwegian was reeled in by Le Gac, Heiduk and Kirsch five kilometres further down the road. The peloton waited for the red flame and Avenue de Grammont to close the gap and set up a bunch sprint. Like a year ago, Arnaud Démare was the strongest man, as he outpaced Bennett, perhaps a bit tired after his chasing efforts all day.