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The French fastman traced a mazey-crazy course through a chaotic bunch sprint to pip Caleb Ewan with a bike throw after a long and lazy sixth stage of the corsa rosa.
“It was a very long day. The first 100-120 kilometers we felt a bit asleep, so I had to find the energy to resume racing even though we were already racing,” Démare quipped about his stage 6 victory.
“When we could see the signboards with 50, 45, 30 K to go, then the adrenaline came back and I could feel the peloton getting nervous. But with 120 K to go, we were wondering if we would wake up on time for the finale. Fortunately, we did.”
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Démare sure did look awake when he blasted to his second victory in as many days of this Giro.
After four and a half hours of lone breakaway drone Diego Rosa (Eolo Kometa) pedaling out a processional pace along the Calabrian coast, the finish of the Saclea stage was a whirlwind.
Démare emerged from a swirling sprint pack that saw shoulders barge, rivals boxed into barriers, and sprint lines slalom. The Groupama-FDJ speedster marked Ewan’s wheel as the Aussie opened the afterburners and edged out the pint-sized puncheur with a far-reaching bike throw that clinched a photo finish.
“I had to play it all in only 100 meters,” Démare said. “I knew myself to be fast, but I thought it wasn’t enough to take the victory today. That’s why I threw my bike on the line. It was a very hot moment of the race, but I’m super happy I was eventually declared the winner.”
🔻 LAST KM / STAGE 6⃣ | TAPPA 6⃣
🙌 All down to thousandths.
🙌Tutta una questione di millesimi.
— Giro d’Italia (@giroditalia) May 12, 2022
Démare’s millimeter-winning margin wasn’t something that came through luck. The Frenchman described how he actively practiced a bike-throwing skill that reaped him success before.
“In the 2020 Giro my first victory was similar,” he said. “When I’m training behind the scooter or with other riders I often throw my bike, I do it instinctively. It’s something I work on without realizing. This habit of throwing my bike in training played in my favor today.”
— ammattipyöräily (@ammattipyoraily) May 12, 2022
Démare is now far out front in the sprints classification, sitting in pole position by a full 53 points over nearest rival Biniam Girmay and packing almost double the haul held by bunch sprint supremo Mark Cavendish.
After winning the category in 2o2o, Démare knows what it takes to claim the ciclamino. Just like the GC, it’s a classification that’s not won only in the first week.
“I think about winning the jersey more and more, but I know a grand tour is very long,” Démare said.
“A points jersey is won by the length of the race and not just by two or three sprints, not only in the first week. I have to remain humble in this Giro in order to win the maglia ciclamino. Everyone can have an off day.”
A full haul of uphill lies between Démare and the ciclamino cloth in Verona at the end of the month.
Just surviving through the notoriously tough Giro is a task for even a thoroughbred climber, yet alone a full 170lb of prime sprint steak.
“I have myself encountered lots of difficulties in grand tours and I know how hard the race ahead of us is,” Démare said. “I am satisfied today to have the maglia on my shoulders but I still need to make a bigger difference on my rivals. It’s not won yet.”