Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) silenced his critics by claiming a comfortable win in the bunch sprint of the 18th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday, the first victory this year for a French team in the race.
The Frenchman, who had been accused by Andre Greipel of holding on to his team car in Wednesday’s mountain stage to avoid missing the time cut, was perfectly set up by Jacopo Guarnieri.
He beat compatriot Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), who were second and third respectively as Geraint Thomas retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey after 171km from Trie sur Baize.
“I did not fight for nothing in the mountains, I was thinking of a possible victory when I was suffering,” said Demare.
On Wednesday, Greipel hinted on Twitter that Demare held on to his team car in the final climb up to the Col du Portet, which the Frenchman denied.
Demare sent his power and time data to Greipel, who had quickly deleted his tweet. “Today I thought of him,” said Demare of Greipel, who abandoned the race last week along with several other top sprinters, exhausted by extreme heat and grueling efforts in the mountains.
Demare grinded his teeth though the mountain stages, narrowly avoiding missing the time cut on a couple of occasions.
“I had good legs and today all the hard work I did paid off,” he said. I stayed strong in my head. (Cheating) is not my philosophy. I gave everything, I worked super hard in the mountains ahead of the Tour de France. Several sprinters are home today and I’m still here. I deserved this victory, the whole team deserved it for their hard work.”
Tour de France 2018 – stage 18 results (Trie-sur-Baïse – Pau):
|1||Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)|
|2||Christophe Laporte (Cofidis)|
|3||Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)|
|4||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data)|
|5||Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida)|
|6||Maximiliano Richeze (Quick-Step Floors)|
|7||John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo)|
|8||Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|9||Taylor Phinney (EF Education First-Drapac)|
|10||Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)|
|11||Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors)|
|12||Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal)|
|13||Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|14||Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data)|
|15||Jacopo Guarnieri (Groupama-FDJ)|
|16||Michael Hepburn (Mitchelton – Scott)|
|17||Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty – Groupe Gobert)|
|18||Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie)|
|19||Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|20||Magnus Cort (Astana)|
General classification after stage 18:
|1||Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)|
|2||Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)|
|3||Chris Froome (Team Sky)|
|4||Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo)|
|5||Nairo Quintana (Movistar)|
|6||Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo)|
|7||Mikel Landa (Movistar)|
|8||Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|9||Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates)|
|10||Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)|
|11||Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)|
|12||Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|13||Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)|
|14||Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|15||Guillaume Martin (Wanty – Groupe Gobert)|
|16||Egan Bernal (Team Sky)|
|17||Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic)|
|18||Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)|
|19||Tanel Kangert (Astana)|
|20||Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida)|