Tim Merlier and Arnaud Démare are out of the Tour de France
Stage 3 winner Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and French sprinter Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) both fell victim to the difficult terrain and brutal weather on stage 9 of the Tour de France.
Merlier was the first of three riders to climb off during the second mountain stage, making him the second Alpecin-Fenix rider, and the second stage winner, to leave the race after Mathieu van der Poel’s withdrawal on Sunday morning. The former Belgian national champion took a reduced sprint victory on stage 3, adding a second Grand Tour stage win to his stage 2 victory at the Giro d’Italia. Though he struggles whenever the road goes up, Merlier has become one of the most highly regarded sprinters in the pro peloton, often putting the best WorldTeam riders to shame.
Démare was already having a disappointing Tour before the race hit the mountains, his best result coming on stage 6 with fourth behind Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep). But things went from bad to worse on stage 9 from Cluses to Tignes, the Frenchman crossing the line alone and outside the time cut. Démare is a two-time stage winner at the Tour de France, but this year was his first participation since 2018, his team focussing on the GC efforts of Thibaut Pinot in the intervening years. Démare will have to wait a little longer to end the drought.
The two sprinters were two of many whose race ended on the second Sunday of the Tour de France, marking the end of a dramatic and attritional opening week.