Just like last year, Dylan Groenewegen had a difficult start to the Tour de France, but the 26-year-old from Amsterdam made it to the delight of his team Jumbo-Visma on Friday, just like in 2018, by winning the seventh stage.
"The last few days have not been the easiest for Dylan. I did not notice it, but I could feel that he was very disappointed. That is why I am really happy that he succeeded today," said lead-out man. Mike Teunissen in finish place Chalon-sur-Saône.
For the Tour, Groenewegen dreamed of a victory in the first stage in Brussels, but a crash drew a line through it. At his second chance on Tuesday, he did not yet feel 100 percent, there was some doubt and miscommunication, and he did not go further than place five.
Friday it was hit. Wout van Aert, Amund Grøndahl Jansen and Teunissen put Groenewegen in the narrow finish line and the leader finished off by beating Caleb Ewan with a minimal difference.
"It was exciting for a while, because I was driving next to the Mitchelton-Scott team leader car and they said it was a photo finish. I thought it wouldn't be," said Van Aert, who crossed the line a minute and a half after the winner.
"But Dylan was left exactly enough and that gives a lot of satisfaction. As a team we completely separate and hope that we succeed. Today's trust in Dylan has been rewarded."
58Groenewegen: "We'll be toasting this here"
"Dylan had to be able to sprint freely"
Jumbo-Visma did not hesitate for the last few days whether the team would still be full ahead of Groenewegen. The Noord-Hollander suffered a mental and physical blow due to his fall, but this year with ten victories for the Tour, he demonstrated that he is topfit the fastest sprinter in the world.
"There was only one thing at the forefront today and that is that Dylan should be able to sprint freely because we know he is the fastest", Teunissen said. "Amund and Wout are so strong and put Dylan and me in perfect position for the last kilometer. Maybe we were in the lead a little too early, but we wanted to sit there rather than be late."
"At 500 meters from the finish I made some room for Dylan, which put him in a good wheel. It was certainly not great, because there were still four sprinters ahead of him. But even from a non-ideal position he can just solve it , that's very clever. "
Grøndahl Jansen mainly spoke of relief afterwards. "For me, Mike and Dylan, because we have been working on this together for months," said the Norwegian. "This is what I'm in the Tour for, winning rides with Dylan. I couldn't have gone home without winning for him, that would have been a big disappointment."
The discharge at the Jumbo-Visma bus revealed that the whole team shared that feeling. "Just like Dylan, we were waiting for this moment," said team leader Grischa Niermann. "Dylan suffered a lot from his fall in recent days, especially his shoulder hurt a lot. But he really wanted to win and luckily he succeeded today."
114Discharge at Jumbo-Visma bus after winning Groenewegen
See also: View the rankings of the Tour with Kruijswijk in place eight