FRENCH CHAMPIONSHIPS – “I’ve always had this flame for the tricolor shirt”: Arnaud Démare in search of the record

You just won three stages in the Giro, which is eight in total, more than Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault. What does this mean for you?

Arnaud Demare : To tell you that I am the best French scorer in the Giro, gives something more to the history of cycling, beyond what I do in other races. These are small lines that are added, this is not the first. I’m lucky to be able to add more to other events. These are “anecdotal” records but they talk about the whole bike, its history. So it’s very beautiful. Winning like I did at the Giro did me a lot of good.

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You have already won the French championship three times (2014, 2017 and 2020), a fourth success would make you the record of the event, tied with Jean Stablinski …

AD : It means something, but I feel no more pressure than that. Everything I do, I give my best. Obviously, inevitably, these little records that we can make write the history of the bicycle. Therefore, it is an additional motivation.

I’ve been thinking about these championships for a long time

What is so special about the French championships?

AD : I like to run on circuits and this is only the case in the French championships. The race is long (240 km, ed.) And something comes out of this race. We are also only among the French. It’s a race that has motivated me since I was a child, when I was doing the championships with the Picardy regional shirt. I’ve always had this flame for the tricolor t-shirt. I’ve been thinking about these championships for a long time.

Arnaud Démare, winner of the 4th stage of the Giro 2020

Credit: Getty Images

What do you think of the circuit drawn in Cholet?

AD : I haven’t run in Cholet (2012) in a long time. The route is not exactly like the Cholet race. It is very urban, with many reminders. There will be a first selection from behind and then there are still 2500m of elevation gain and distance (240km). There will probably be some damage, but I haven’t seen or driven it yet. I can’t tell if a team is capable of controlling, if the roads are narrow or wide. I think there are teams that will be interested in moving to the sprint, but if the sprinter isn’t necessarily in good condition on D-Day, he can explode on some teams.

Physically, I feel like I’m at the end of the race

Do you arrive with the utmost confidence?

AD : I feel confident but I feel tired, compared to 2020 when it started. There, I feel that since January, I have given a lot. I am one of those runners with a very quiet month of July. This is my last deadline, my last big goal before actually cutting. After the Giro, I had in mind this desire for a championship. So between recovery and maintaining the condition, I didn’t relax too much psychologically. Physically, I feel like I’m at the end of the race. If it’s a race with a final sprint, I’ll be even safer. Now if it’s a slightly harder, more rhythmic race, we’ll see how I respond.

What do you think are the favorites in Cholet?

AD : These are the championships, there may be surprises. A driver like Laporte who will be isolated but very strong, Bryan Coquard who started the season very well and returns well to the Tour de Switzerland. All runners who have a good burst of speed. I see a group playing for victory and not someone coming alone. But it is a long race, 240 terminals, on an urban circuit. All the organisms have been tested in the last days with the heat so it will also play with the freshness of the last moment.

It will be very open in my opinion. We are a mix of runners coming out of the World Tour, riders doing a very good race in these championships, some preparing for the Tour de France, others for whom it is the last event … authentic mixture of many states of motivation and desire of each.

Arnaud Démare won the cyclamen T-shirt at the 2022 Tour of Italy.

Credit: Getty Images

You are 30 years old, many victories in your name, but do you regret it?

AD : I don’t regret anything I’ve done because I do everything 100%. I don’t regret what I was able to do in training. I am also proud of everything I have done. I’m still really looking forward to it. What I did at the Giro, if you don’t have the desire, the motivation, the dream to do it, you don’t go there in a rage and they eat you.

Milan-San Remo, it’s really a race that makes me vibrate

Despite your track record among the best in tricolor cycling, sometimes you feel like you are suffering from a lack of recognition …

AD : I’m not necessarily interested in what people think. I’m proud of what I do and it’s not over. This weekend (La Route d’Occitanie, ed.), Has been my 88th victory among professionals, that’s one thing. At the moment we always see T. What I did at the Giro is almost a long way off. It’s today’s world, you always have to think about tomorrow. We are judged by the present and we forget very quickly. What I do, I do mostly for myself, so this title in the French championship is the record that is not far away. It’s an extra motivation for me.

He still begins as a sovereign

What are your big goals for the future?

AD : There is this title of champion of France, full of great races that I dream of winning or recovering, like Milan-San Remo. It’s really a race that makes me vibrate, even though I spend less and less time in the sprint. I know I could do it again someday. I come with experience, in full force of age where you know yourself, you know when to recover or recover. The bike is evolving enormously, it is even more goal that we have to work, to be really 100% on D-Day, because now when you are at 90% you take it, while 5-6 years ago you could still get it. far from it. You may win less often, but you need to aim for those goals.

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