High noon for Démare et Laporte

September 29 th 2023 - 13:00

Arnaud Démare, riding in Arkéa–Samsic colours since last August, will be hunting for his third consecutive win in Paris–Tours when the 213.9 km long 117th edition of the race sets out from Chartres (Eure-et-Loire) on Sunday, 8 October. The man touted as his main rival, Christophe Laporte, will also be wearing a new jersey after securing the title in the European Championships.   

10 km of vineyard tracks, concentrated in the final 50 km, will inject a big dose of uncertainty into the race. From sprinters to long-range attack specialists, there is no shortage of riders eager to crash the French party: Arnaud De Lie, Kaden Groves, Magnus Kort, Tobias Johannessen, Jordi Meeus, Matteo Trentin, Edward Theuns, John Degenkolb, etc.

09/10/2022 - Paris-Tours -
09/10/2022 - Paris-Tours - © A.S.O. / Etienne Coudret

After five editions featuring vineyard tracks, Paris–Tours continues to stand out for how unpredictable the fight for the win can be, from a small group of tough guys trading blow after blow to the fast men turning on the afterburners in a bunch sprint. The only thing that has remained almost immutable, with or without vineyards, with or without wind, has been Arnaud Démare performing at a high level in his traditional last race of the season. The French sprinter has cracked the top 5 on Avenue de Grammont five times, including a brace of victories in the last two editions. Now that he has got the finale in Tours down to a science, will he be able to become the first rider ever to score a hat-trick in the Classic of the Falling Leaves, weeks after jumping ship to a new team mid-season? While the Arkéa–Samsic leader has yet to score a win with his new squad, his form is clearly where it needs to be (third in the Grand Prix d'Isbergues), and he will also enjoy the support of Luca Mozzato and Matis Louvel, two luxury domestiques who finished in the top 10 last year.  

Démare certainly has what it takes to clinch the race, but he is far from a shoo-in, as a host of other riders stands ready to pounce and wrap up the season in style. Chief among them is Christophe Laporte, who put in a barnstorming performance to overcome Wout van Aert and Olav Kooij in the European Championships. His stellar performance in the Netherlands makes him a hot favourite, but the vagaries of the race could also play into the hands of riders cut from a different mould. Alpecin–Deceuninck, for instance, will be banking on the Australian Kaden Groves, the winner of three stages and the green jersey in the Vuelta, if it all comes down to a bunch sprint, and on the former winner Søren Kragh Andersen if it degenerates into a slugfest. The same goes for EF, which can play their cards with Magnus Cort and Stefan Bisseger, whereas Lotto–Dstny will be pinning their hopes on their leader, Arnaud De Lie. Among the dark horses, the Norwegian Uno-X outfit is fielding the Tour de Luxembourg stage winner Tobias Johannessen along with Rasmus Tiller, who snapped up a stage in the Tour of Britain a short while earlier. As for the super-speedsters, Bora is lining up with two former winners of the Champs-Élysées stage in the Tour: Jordi Meeus (2022) and Sam Bennett (2020).

Main contenders (as of 29/09):  

Bora–Hansgrohe: Bennett (IRL), Meeus (BEL) and Van Poppel (NED)  

Lotto–Dstny: De Lie, Campenaerts and Segaert (BEL)
Alpecin–Deceuninck: Groves (AUS) and Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Intermarché–Circus–Wanty: Girmay (ERI), De Gendt (BEL), Teunissen (NED) and Page (FRA)
Bingoal–WB: Van Rooy and Peyskens (BEL)  

United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: Trentin (ITA) and Wellens (BEL)  

United States
Lidl–Trek: Gallopin (FRA), Stuyven and Theuns (BEL)
EF Education–EasyPost: Cort (DEN) and Bisseger (SUI)  

Equipo Kern Pharma: Adrià, Arrieta and García (ESP)  

AG2R Citroën: Cosnefroy (FRA), Van Avermaet and Dewulf (BEL)
Groupama–FDJ: Le Gac (FRA)
Cofidis: Coquard, Périchon (FRA) and Wallays (BEL)
TotalEnergies: Turgis, Dujardin, Soupe (FRA) and Van Gestel (BEL)
Team Arkéa–Samsic: Démare, Louvel (FRA) and Mozzato (ITA)
St. Michel–Mavic–Auber93: R. Barbier (FRA)
Van Rysel–Roubaix Lille Métropole: Boudat (FRA) and Ärm (EST)
CIC-U Nantes Atlantique: P. Barbier and Guégan (FRA)
Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur: Couanon (FRA)  

Israel–Premier Tech: Nizzolo (ITA), Van Asbroeck (BEL) and Gee (CAN)  

Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: T. Johannessen, Tiller and Waerenskjold (NOR)  

Jumbo–Visma: Laporte (FRA) and Van Baarle (NED)
Team DSM–Firmenich: Degenkolb (GER) and Eekhoff (NED)  

Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team: Bauer (NZL) and Parisini (ITA)

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