Dy­lan makes state­ment

Dutch sprinter proves doubters wrong and re­gains con­fi­dence by claim­ing sev­enth stage

Sport360 - - Tour de France - By David Jones @Sport360 editorial@sport360.com

Dutch­man Dy­lan Groe­newe­gen burst past Colom­bian sprinter Fer­nando Gaviria to seal a first win on this Tour de France on Fri­day, say­ing he’d re­found his con­fi­dence, speed and pride at the end of a 231km sev­enth stage from Fougeres to Chartres.

The Lotto NL-Jumbo rider, who won the fi­nal stage to Paris last year, had by his own ad­mis­sion suf­fered a dis­ap­point­ing start to the 2018 Tour be­fore his show of power to beat Gaviria into sec­ond and Peter Sa­gan into third.

“Peo­ple had been say­ing I was not good enough to win a stage on this Tour, so I put my fin­ger to my lips to tell them to shut up,” said Groe­newe­gen, ex­plain­ing his ges­ture at the fin­ish line.

“I had started won­der­ing my­self, think­ing ‘s***, am I good enough’, so this win feels re­ally good af­ter six days wait­ing.”

Groe­newe­gen grew up in a cy­cling en­vi­ron­ment as his grand­fa­ther was a bike man­u­fac­turer and

“I put my fin­ger to my lips to tell them to shut up” – Groe­newe­gen

his boy­hood coach was Jean-Paul van Pop­pel, win­ner of nine sprint fin­ishes at the Tour de France.

“I was pretty dis­ap­point­ing in the first few stages but now I’ve got the power back in my legs,” said the 25-year-old from Am­s­ter­dam who dis­likes com­par­isons to Bri­ton Mark Cavendish.

“I have my own style,” he said when asked about his sim­i­lar­ity to the vet­eran Manx­man with 39 stage wins un­der his belt.

“This win was fan­tas­tic for my self con­fi­dence, I feel un­der less pres­sure now, a sprinter needs con­fi­dence. I’ll be try­ing to win again to­mor­row now!”

World cham­pion road racer Sa­gan said he’d been happy enough to stay on Gaviria’s wheel and keep ahead in the green points jersey race.

He has 234 points to the 23-yearold Gaviria’s 203.

“I had a good day,” said the Slo­vak, who has, like Gaviria, two stage wins so far.

“Third is okay, if I win what do I get ex­cept an ex­tra point or two? I’m af­ter the green jersey and look, I’m wear­ing it.”

“It was a bor­ing stage, no wind, no stress just bor­ing, I was talk­ing to ev­ery­body,” he said.

Bel­gian Greg Van Aver­maet re­tained the leader’s yel­low jersey ahead of Satur­day’s eighth stage and said he hope to go to the moun­tains with it next week af­ter what he de­scribed as a re­lax­ing day.

“It was nice to re­lax be­cause over this first week we have had very lit­tle chance to do that, be­lieve me,” said the BMC man.

“If to­mor­row is like that and all goes well on the cob­bles on Sunday, it would be great to go into the rest day with the yel­low,” said Van Aver­maet, who will be help­ing GC con­tender Richie Porte to keep out of trou­ble on the Roubaix stage.

Van Aver­maet ac­tu­ally ex­tended his lead in the over­all stand­ings over Geraint Thomas to six se­conds when he raced ahead of the pack to win a three-sec­ond bonus sprint.

BMC cap­tain Porte is 56sec off the lead, Adam Yates 1min 05sec, de­fend­ing cham­pion Chris Froome at 1min 06sec, with Thurs­day’s stage win­ner Dan Martin at 1min 30. With a no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult 90 de­gree bend with 2km to go and speeds hit­ting 60 km/h, ten­sions were high over the clos­ing kilo­me­tres as the sprint­ers’ teams jock­eyed for po­si­tion.

But the pelo­ton slowed and hos­til­i­ties be­gan with a ‘faux plat’ in­cline to the fi­nal 150m, with Sa­gan’s Bora, Gaviria’s Quick-Step and the win­ner’s Lotto out­fit prom­i­nent into the fi­nal stretch.

The pelo­ton set off amid good rac­ing con­di­tions for the long­est stage on the race, with a fin­ish line op­po­site the 800-year-old cathe­dral of Chartres, a UNESCO world her­itage site.

Around 95km from Chartres the pelo­ton split in a cross wind, trap­ping Ir­ish­man Martin (Team Emi­rates) in the sec­ond group.

He was swift to re­act, lead­ing his team across the breach within a cou­ple of kilo­me­tres.

The lone sur­vivor of a long-range break­away, Yoann Of­fredo (Wanty), was reeled in with 38km re­main­ing, alert­ing a ner­vous pelo­ton to fur­ther breaches caused by cross­winds on the open plains.

Si­lence is golden: Dy­lan Groe­newe­gen crosses the fin­ish line at stage seven of the Tour de France.

Top man: Sa­gan still leads sprint­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.