A well-timed attack late in the final sprint enabled Dylan Groenewegen to take the spoils on the 231km seventh stage of the Tour de France in Chartres today.
The Dutchman, riding for LottoNL-Jumbo, completed the longest stage in the French Grand Tour, in 5:43:42.
Fernando Gaviria of Quick-Step Floors and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan were second and third.
Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing retained his race lead with a general classification time of 28:19:25. Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas is second and Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing third.
South African Daryl Impey, riding for Mitchelton-Scott, finished the stage in seventh.
Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) launched a decisive attack 37km into the stage and pulled away from the peloton.
The Frenchman gradually extended his lead and almost 40km farther it had grown to almost seven minutes. He extended it by another two minutes several kilometres later.
Approaching the 100km mark, his lead had dwindled slightly to just under seven minutes.
Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal) was at the head of peloton, setting a solid pace, and Offredo’s lead decreased to just over five minutes at the halfway mark.
With 110km remaining, his lead dropped to four minutes and an air of inevitability loomed.
Offredo was eventually caught approximately 20km later and the peloton regrouped. Team Sky, Movistar and AG2R controlled the pace and pinned themselves near the front.
Fortuneo-Samsic’s Laurent Pichon then launched an attack of his own and broke clear with 84km remaining. Eight kilometres on, the Frenchman had a two-minute lead but it was to no avail. He was reeled in and caught with 38km remaining.
Lotto, BMC, Movistar, Astana and Bora took control of the peloton and remained at the head with just over 20km to go.
As the stage grew to a close, the peloton became strung out and various lead-out trains began preparing for the final sprint.
Groenewegen then launched an attack around the outside of the final bend and went ahead to surge over the line in first place.
“I’ve been doing better every day. I said I needed some time; I didn’t feel good in the first stages,” Groenewegen said afterwards.
“Today we did it and it’s amazing; I’m really grateful. I was behind Kristoff and he was going. I stayed on his wheel and thought now is the moment.
“I went with 200m to go and it was good enough. I hope there’s more. I have the legs to win now, so we will celebrate tonight and maybe repeat the same tomorrow,” he said.