Groe­newe­gen makes it two stages in a row

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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