Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen edged Caleb Ewan at the finish line Friday to win stage seven of the Tour de France.
The Jumbo-Visma rider did just enough to defeat Ewan at the end of the iconic race’s longest day.
The 230-kilometer flat stage from Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saone ended in a sprint finish from a main bunch that included all of the race’s general classification contenders, meaning Italian Giulio Ciccone retained his six-second advantage in the yellow jersey.
Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) remains ahead of Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), while defending champion Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) is still 49 seconds off the pace in fifth.
After an eventful stage Thursday saw the race lead change hands and Thomas showcase his skill, Friday’s proceedings started slowly.
Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) decided enough was enough and kicked clear of the peloton, quickly opening up an advantage of more than five minutes.
The sleepy stage eventually came to life when, with less than 12km to go, the leading pair was hauled in.
That set the tone for a sprint finish, and with Ciccone and Thomas safe in the main group, it appeared a battle between Groenewegen and Peter Sagan (BORA – Hansgrohe). Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Elia Viviani was in the mix, too, and Lotto-Soudal’s Ewan also emerged as a threat.
And it was Ewan who pushed the stage winner all the way, Groenewegen only just holding off the Australian.
Groenewegen hit a top speed of 74.1 kilometers per hour (46 mph) in the sprint and became the first Dutch rider since Jeroen Blijlevens to win a stage at three successive Tours.
It was his first win of this year’s Tour and fourth overall, all coming in the last three years. Blijlevens won stages in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998.
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) 6:02:44
2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) – same time
3. Peter Sagan (BORA-Hansgrohe) “
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) “
5. Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) “
1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 29:17:39
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0:06
3. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) +0.32
1. Peter Sagan (BORA-Hansgrohe) 177
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 121
3. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 117
King of the Mountains
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 43
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 30
3. Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team) 27
An action-packed stage eight appears to be in the cards, with many of the race’s top contenders conserving energy Friday ahead of a hilly 200-kilometer course from Macon to Saint-Etienne that contains five category two climbs.