Groe­newe­gen re­turns to win­ning ways

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

CHARTRES: Dutch­man Dy­lan Groe­newe­gen out­blasted his ri­vals to the line in a sprint to take the sixth stage of the Tour de France yesterday, the long­est sin­gle stage of the race, a 231-km haul from Fougeres to Chartres.

Groe­newe­gen, who won the fi­nal stage on the Champs El­y­sees last year, cranked the ped­als hard with 200 me­tres to go to eas­ily beat Colom­bian Fer­nando Gaviria.

“I hope there’s more. I have the legs to win now, so we cel­e­brate tonight and maybe the same to­mor­row,” Groe­newe­gen told re­porters af­ter the stage.

World cham­pion Peter Sa­gan, gun­ning for a record- equalling sixth green jersey for the points clas­si­fi­ca­tion, took third place.

Bel­gian Greg van Aver­maet stayed safe in the bunch all day and re­tained the over­all leader’s yel­low jersey at the end of the stage, six se­conds ahead of Welsh­man Geraint Thomas.

All the top con­tenders for the over­all vic­tory en­joyed a com­fort­able day as the race heads to­wards a much-feared ninth stage fea­tur­ing cob­bled sec­tors to­mor­row, just be­fore the first rest day.

Half­way through the stage, the AG2R-La Mon­di­ale, Trek and Mo­vis­tar teams ac­cel­er­ated in cross­winds and caused splits in the pelo­ton, with Ir­ish­man Dan Martin, one of the over­all con­tenders, trapped be­hind.

But the move even­tu­ally failed and the bunch was com­pact again with 95km left.

“We knew there would be some cross­winds and other teams were in­ter­ested in try­ing some­thing,” said AG2R-La Mon­di­ale man­ager Vin­cent Lavenu, whose leader Ro­main Bardet lost half a minute fol­low­ing a me­chan­i­cal in the fi­nale of Thurs­day’s sixth stage.

“Un­for­tu­nately it did not work but at least we tried.”

The move at least ended Yoann Of­fredo’s ordeal.

The French­man, who had been on a solo break­away for 100 kilo­me­tres, was swal­lowed by the pelo­ton.

An­other French­man, Lau­rent Pi­chon, then tried his luck alone too, but the pace was con­trolled by the sprint­ers’ teams, and the For­tu­neo-Sam­sic rider was reined in about 40km from the fin­ish.

To­day’s eighth stage is a 181-km ride between Dreux and Amiens that should once again favour the sprint­ers. – Reuters

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