Paris (AFP) – Thibaut Pinot’s pneumonia means French road race champion and rising sprint star Arnaud Demare will lead Groupama-FDJ’s eight rider team at the Tour de France in July.
Winner of the Milan-San Remo in 2016 and third on this year’s edition, the 26-year-old Demare won his first Tour de France stage in 2017 as he emerged as his nation’s top sprinter.
He will be the sole leader of the team and has won stages this season on the Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse, where he edged out Fernando Gaviria, Alexandre Kristoff and Peter Sagan.
He will have the back up of two lead in men in the form of Ramon Sinkeldam and Jacopo Guarnieri in a team featuring five Frenchmen.
Instead of Pinot the 21-year-old climber David Gaudu, who won the 2016 Tour de L’Avenir, makes his much awaited debut.
“He could spring a surprise,” said his sports director Yvon Madiot. “But he’s there to learn.”
Arnaud Demare (FRA), David Gaudu (FRA), Jacopo Guarnieri (ITA), Olivier Le Gac (FRA), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Rudy Molard (FRA), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Arthur Vichot (FRA)