Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) responded to André Greipel‘s accusations that he had held on to cars in order to make the time limit on stage 17 by sprinting to victory one day later on stage 18 the 2018 Tour de France.
Démare stormed into Pau ahead of Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) on stage 17; Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) placed 31st and kept his yellow jersey with three days to race.
“I was hurt by his comments, I was affected by that,” Démare said. “I sometimes regret that my performances are put in doubt. It’s true I’m not the best rider in the mountains, but I’ve worked a lot to improve my climbing, so the best answer I could give to André Greipel was to win today.”
Greipel, who abandoned the Tour on stage 12, commented on Twitter after the Col de Portet stage that someone should look at Démare’s GPS and suggested that he may have held onto cars up the climb.The German sprinter apologised afterwards and said that he looked at the wrong data and “lesson learned.”
Démare also had similar critics after his 2016 Milan-San Remo victory. Riders said he held on to the cars as they raced over the Cipressa towards the Italian seaside finish.
Watch: Tour de France stage 18 highlights
“There’ll always be criticism and jealousy. We fought for making it over the mountains in Milan-San Remo like yesterday. There were many referees and had I done anything wrong, I would have been punished. There are many cameras, on the broom wagon as well,” Démare said.
“In the stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon, I saw the team car of Bora, it stopped and followed me for 40km on the flats. I pushed the entire way. I knew I was losing time on the peloton, but I was happy I impressed them that way and finished. I have nothing to say to the critics, they can say what they want.”
Démare won the race over a reduced peloton after several sprinters abandoned including Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).
“With the team we knew my weak point was in the mountains. That’s what we worked on. Today was a nice reward for all the work that we’ve done. Some of the other sprinters are not here in the Tour now, but I’m still here and able to raise my hands in the air.”
The race covers its final mountain stage over the Tourmalet in stage 19 tomorrow. Démare will look forward to an easier day in the time trial and then try to win the Champs-Élysées stage in Paris.
“I’ll have to deal with tomorrow, I’ll have to recover form today’s effort,” he added. “Tomorrow, I’ll be happy for winning today, but my legs will hurt in the mountains. It’s the last hard stage before the Champs-Élysées and I’ll fight.”