Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) took his second stage win in a row on Thursday in the Tour of Italy. Although he did need a finish photo for that: “It was really close, but I already felt first on the line”, he said shortly after his victory.
Démare won in a bunch sprint in the arrival place Scalea with a small lead ahead of Australian Caleb Ewan. “It was really tight. Win or lose is really close together. But today the dime falls my way”, he grinned afterwards. “I felt first at the finish. But until the photo finish gave the answer, that victory was not there. I am super satisfied.”
As with his sprint victory on Wednesday, Démare could count on a punctual sprint train. “The team has done a great job again. I don’t think it could have been better. Our placement was really superb, on every point. I then felt that they (Ewan and Mark Cavendish, ed.) quickly got on with it. I had yet to do my acceleration, but it all came down to finding an opening. I sensed Cavendish on the left would hold the door shut. It became a short sprint for me, in which I had to start very quickly at a hundred meters. I felt that I was quickly making up ground, but that it was going to be close to the win. I threw my bike over the line, and that made all the difference.”
With seven stage wins, Démare becomes the best French stage privateer in Giro history. He is one victory better than five-time Tour winners Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil. “That’s huge”, the thirty-year-old sprinter enjoyed with a broad smile.
Ewan (2nd): “I’m very disappointed”
Just not for Caleb Ewan, who stranded within an inch of the stage victory. “The team did what it had to do today and dropped me in the right place. After that I could start my sprint whenever I wanted. It looked really good, but in the end I just get knocked on the line. I’m really disappointed, but we can appreciate the fact that it could just as well have fallen our way. The form and the team are good and I am eager for revenge.”
Girmay (4th): “I even hit the brakes twice”
Biniam Girmay was in the top five of a stage in the Giro for the fourth time. “There were quite a few fights again in the last kilometres. Everyone was suddenly very nervous after a really long race day. My team did really well. I was brought to within 700 meters. Fantastic. There was some headwind in the sprint itself, but it turned out to be a very fast sprint. I also had to brake twice, even though I was in a good position. But I have to admit that Démare, Ewan and Cavendish are faster than me,” said the winner of Gent-Wevelgem.