Groenewegen wins as July 14 fireworks mark bunch sprint with two disqualifications

Kristopher Nichols
July 19, 2018

"Was that a Sunday in hell?" said Irishman Dan Martin, fighting on after a brutal fall left the day before left him with "lumbar trauma".

There were also crashes for Britain's defending champion Chris Froome of Team Sky, Movistar's Spanish rider Mikel Landa and Colombia's Rigoberto Uran, who rides for EF Education First.

In the General classification, van Avermat has maintained its leadership, its separation from British Geraint Thomas (Sky) was increased to 43 seconds. Froome survived a crash with 45km remaining of the 156.5km stage, just as the riders entered one of the sectors of pavé at Mons-en-Pévèle.

"I was chasing this victory for so long, I've been through a lot", he said.

That meant that Sagan officially finished second, with John Degenkolb in third.

Richie Porte, the BMC team leader and overall contender, crashed 10 kilometers into the race and abandoned with an apparent right shoulder injury.

Bardet, the French hope who finished on the podium the last two years, finished only seven seconds behind the main pack despite having to be paced back to the peloton three times.

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Degenkolb has previously won a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and won the points jersey at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana, but it was clear this triumph meant more to the delighted Trek-Segafredo rider, whose most recent Grand Tour win came in the final stage of the 2015 Vuelta.

Tom Dumoulin, meanwhile, suffered a puncture.

Degenkolb was the victim of a serious training accident in January 2016 when a auto drove into oncoming traffic. Three years ago he showed his calibre on these roads with victory in Paris-Roubaix, just a month after he won Milan-Sanremo. "When you hear a doctor say that you know it's no good", he said. "I tried to give them confidence but it is hard".

The route starting in Arras contained the highest number of cobblestone sections since the 1980 Tour, with almost 22 kilometers altogether.

Dylan Groenewegen snatched his second win in a row on the Tour de France when he prevailed in awe-inspiring fashion in a bunch sprint at the end of the eighth stage on Saturday.

"It's going to be hell alright", one photographer told AFP, and the 30-degree Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) heat and the dry conditions that have prevailed since late spring in the region will make it worse.

Froome was not concerned about the effects of racing on the cobbles but he intends to enjoy the first rest day in the Alps on Monday before starting the battle in the mountains.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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