CHALON-SUR-SAONE, France — Less than a week ago in Brussels, Dylan Groenewegen sat dejected in the middle of a road, his body language oozing disappointment as he was attended by a Tour de France doctor.
One of the fastest sprinters in the world with one of the most powerful teams, the Dutch sprinter was expected to win the opening stage and seize the yellow jersey. Instead, he was caught in a crash and forced to watch his leadout man at Jumbo-Visma, Mike Teunissen, claim all of the honors.
To add to his torment, Teunissen and Groenewegen are roommates on the Tour, meaning he had to spend the night with the yellow jersey in his room.
Banged up and demoralized, Groenewegen took a few days to recover, well beaten in the sprints that followed. He finally put his poor Tour start to bed with the tightest of wins in the longest stage on Friday.
“It was not the start I wanted,” Groenewegen said after pointing a finger in celebration as he crossed the line. “Over the last days, I focused on today. My team did a really good job. The tactics was to go full gas, and I took the win.”
Groenewegen edged Australian rival Caleb Ewan and former world champ Peter Sagan of Slovakia to claim his fourth career stage win of the Tour.
Photo: Christophe Ena / Associated Press
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Squeezed between the crossing of the Vosges and Massif Central mountains, the stage took the peloton from Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saone in central-east France. After a day of hardship in the Vosges that culminated with the brutal ascent to the Planches des Belles Filles, the peloton rode at a pedestrian pace.
On the Tour’s longest day, some riders were caught napping. American Tejay Van Garderen and Teunissen both hit the tarmac soon after the start, close to a road divider. Van Garderen was attended by three of his teammates and eventually got back on his bike, his face bloodied and his jersey ripped.
Van Garderen was to have X-rays. His team will decide on Saturday whether he’s fit to continue.
There was no significant movement in the Tour standings. Tour rookie Giulio Ciccone kept the yellow jersey with a six-second lead over Julian Alaphilippe. Among the favorites, defending champion Geraint Thomas remained the best placed rider, 49 seconds off the pace.
Samuel Petrequin is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Tour-de-France-Groenewegen-sprints-to-victory-in-14092657.php.