Arnaud Démare exits Groupama drama for Arkéa

The sprinter is on the move mid-season to another French squad.

Arnaud Démare at the Brussels Cycling Classic. Photo: Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2023

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 01.08.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
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After spending the entirety of his professional racing career at Groupama-FDJ, Arnaud Démare has decided that it’s time for a change – in the middle of the season.

The 31-year-old Frenchman, winner of the 2016 edition of Milan-San Remo and a 10-time Grand Tour stage winner, has signed with Arkéa-Samsic.

The first day of August is the official start of transfer window and thus a completely normal time to unveil a new signing for the coming season, but Arkéa and Démare have announced that the transfer is taking immediate effect. Less than two months after he won the Brussels Cycling Classic for Groupama-FDJ, Démare will be competing for a rival French team this August.

The move away from Groupama does not come as much of a surprise, though the timing itself may be, and Démare’s destination seems like a logical match for a rider looking for more opportunities in a team that has been among the least successful on the WorldTour this season.

Démare turned pro with the squad then just known as FDJ in 2012 and has ridden for them ever since, taking many of their biggest wins in that time. Over the past year, however, tensions have mounted as Groupama began to shift its focus more and more towards David Gaudu and other young climbers.

In January of this year, comments that Gaudu made online in reference to his not wanting Démare on the Tour squad surfaced in media reports. Gaudu later apologized. When it was announced in June that Démare would not be on the Tour team as Groupama built around the aspirations of Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot, Démare told L’Equipe that he would be leaving the team when his contract was up.

Apparently, the opportunity to join Arkéa shifted his timeline forward to right now.

“I signed up for the 2024 and 2025 seasons with Arkea-B&B Hotels, but I had the possibility of terminating my contract by mutual agreement with Groupama and FDJ in order to join the Arkéa-Samsic team in order to be able to compete with this structure at the end of the 2023 season, from August 1st,” Démare said in a statement.

“I would like to thank these two partners for releasing me from my last months of contract. It’s the best [thing] that could happen to me in order to quickly turn the page, and project myself into the future. I have a lot of desire [to be] with the Arkéa-Samsic team from the end of the season. I’m opening a new chapter in my career, within a team that believes in me and motivates me.”

Following Démare to Arkéa-Samsic on a two-year deal is his lead-out man Miles Scotson, the Australian having joined Groupama-FDJ in 2019. “Miles Scotson will join me for the next two years and that’s a sign of confidence from the team,” the Frenchman explained in a video call following the announcement of the transfer.

Démare’s arrival comes amid an especially quiet season for Arkéa as the team has struggled mightily to secure results this year. Although a WorldTour squad, the team has not taken any victories at the WorldTour level this year, nor have they even won any UCI .Pro-rated events.

For his part, Démare has had modest success in 2023, winning a stage and taking second overall at the Boucles de la Mayenne in May and then winning Brussels Cycling Classic in June. At Arkéa-Samsic, where the contract of Nacer Bouhanni is set to end at the conclusion of 2023, Démare will slot in as the obvious choice to lead the team in sprints and Classics this season and beyond.

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