Groenewegen makes it two stages in a row
Dylan Groenewegen has turned the sprinting battle at the Tour de France into a three-man race.
The Dutch rider won his second consecutive stage Saturday, joining world champion Peter Sagan and Tour newcomer Fernando Gaviria as two-stage winners this year.
Groenewegen, 25, entered the final meters of Stage 8 behind Andre Greipel, Gaviria and Sagan, but the Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider timed his last surge perfectly, swinging around his hardcharging opponents to cross first.
“It was a hectic (finish), but that’s every day in the Tour,” Groenewegen said. “I am very happy with my team. The last two days have been very good with two wins.”
Greipel and Gaviria crossed next, but their results were disqualified after they dangerously jockeyed for position in the final meters, though both keep their times.
Greipel boxed in Gaviria next to the barrier on the left-hand side of the street, appearing to nudge him with his side. Gaviria responded by pushing back, even knocking Greipel with his helmet.
That meant Sagan officially placed second, with John Degenkolb in third. “The legs have been better every day,” Groenewegen said, adding, “The team did an amazing job and put me in a great position. I saw Gaviria and Greipel were fighting for position, but I saw the finish line and thought, ‘This is the moment.’ ” Groenewegen won the mostly flat 112-mile ride from Dreux to Amiens in 4 hours, 23 minutes. Olympic road-race champion Greg Van Avermaet kept the overall lead for a fifth consecutive day. Van Avermaet picked up a onesecond bonus overall during an intermediate bonus sprint 20K from the finish. That increased his lead to 7 seconds over Geraint Thomas and 9 seconds over BMC teammate Tejay Van Garderen. Four-time winner Chris Froome is in 12th place, 1:06 behind Van Avermaet.
Sunday’s Stage 9 will take riders over 15 cobbled paths from Arras to Roubaix, near the Belgian border.
Van Avermaet won the single-day cobblestone Paris-Roubaix race in 2017. He says he will try to keep the yellow jersey while his teammates work for BMC leader Richie Porte.
“We will try to do both,” the Belgian said. “We will try to keep Richie with me, but if I have to follow another rider or attack, the other six guys will take care of Richie.”
The cobblestone challenge will be followed by a rest day Monday before the race shifts to its first mountain stages in the Alps.
This was the second consecutive “transition” stage that shifts the race across flatter areas to reach more difficult terrain. The only incident to interrupt the leg was a pile-up with just under 20K to go. UAE Emirates leader Daniel Martin, the winner of Stage 6, bloodied his left elbow and tore the back of his shirt.
The peloton rides past Notre Dame church in Les Andelys during the eighth stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.