Demare, Milan-San Remo’s winning bet
The difficulties of winning Milan-San Remo always come down to one universal analogy: it’s a lottery.
How ironic and beautiful then that the winner of La Primavera, Arnaud Demare, is sponsored by the French Lottery. He just cashed in with the biggest win of his career with all the right numbers coming up.
Luck was definitely on his side in a thrilling finale as he launched his sprint from long distance and held off Ben Swift (Sky) and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal). He’d suffered a crash on the Cipressa but again good fortune worked in his favor as his FDJ teammates brought him back into contention.
Perhaps even luckier was that Nacer Bouhanni, who seemed to have a strained relationship with Demare when they were teammates at FDJ, slipped his chain 150 meters from the line. Bouhanni could only pound the tops of his bars in anger and frustration as instead it was Demare who scored a monument and became the first Frenchmen since 1995 to win Milan San Remo.
Bouhanni is a skilled boxer and he’d surely like to punch out somebody after his bad luck. That’s not an interview we’d like to be in charge of. He’d take our head off.
You could also factor in the crash of Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-Quickstep) in the final few hundred meters. That crash pushed World champion Peter Sagan wide left and he never regained his momentum. Gaviria looked fast and Sagan was in good position but that was moments before the mishap. Another two rivals who had their lottery tickets ripped up and tossed on the streets of San Remo.
Based on Demare’s facial expression as he coasted to a stop, he could scarcely believe he’d just won the race. Both hands covering his mouth, eyes popping with disbelief. Yeah, kinda like winning 50 million euros in Powerball — or whatever the French Lottery calls their game.
“I made it across at the bottom of the Poggio and the entire way I felt fantastic. I became the under-23 world champion in similar conditions after crashing. I’m delighted to win Milan-San Remo. This is a big one and has been running for over a century,” said Demare. It’s extraordinary. I’m extremely happy.”
FDJ’s Arnaud Demare is also extremely lucky. Then again, that’s what Milan San Remo is all about. It’s a lottery.