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Tour de France: Cavendish isolated as Groenewegen edges to stage six win
Cycling Sport

Tour de France: Cavendish isolated as Groenewegen edges to stage six win

The euphoria of Mark Cavendish’s record-breaking stage win on Wednesday’s fifth of the Tour de France proved short-lived, as 24 hours later Dylan Groenewegen reminded the world that other sprinters are also in the peloton.

Cavendish, who took a record-breaking 35th stage win in the Tour, was blocked out in the 300 metres of the sprint on the Cours Général de Gaulle in Dijon and could only watch as the Dutchman edged out Jasper Philipsen and the stage three winner, Biniam Girmay.

Groenewegen, wearing aerodynamic sunglasses that feature a matt black aerodynamic nasal faring, looked like Batman as he swooped ahead of the peloton to take his first win in the Tour since 2022. His manager at Team Jayco-AlUla, Matt White, paid tribute to his “caped crusader”, saying at the finish line: “Batman won today.”

Afterwards the 31-year-old sprinter from Amsterdam discussed the benefits of his aero eyewear. “I don’t know how many watts difference it makes,” Groenewegen said. “It looks a bit strange, but if it’s just a little bit faster, then I’ll use it.”

After the stage, the race commissaires relegated a frustrated Philipsen for deviating from his line, while the Intermarché-Wanty rider Girmay was promoted to second. That allowed the Eritrean sprinter to further consolidate his lead in the green jersey classification.

On a relatively uneventful stage, ridden through sunshine and squally showers, Cavendish was forced to chase back mid-race after another wheel change, just as crosswinds whipped up and momentarily split the peloton, 90km from the finish.

On the rolling roads through the vineyards of the Cote d’Or, Cavendish, a little surprisingly, was isolated and had to pursue the peloton on his own. But as the riders entered the final 10km of racing, he was back at the front with his Astana Qazaqstan team.

Once again, his teammates hugged the right-hand side of the road, just as they had on the approach to his record-breaking win in Saint-Vulbas. A crash seven kilometres from the finish, in the heart of the bunch, took down several EF Education-EasyPost riders and slightly delayed the peloton’s momentum.

Cavendish’s team kept the 39-year-old close to the front on the entry to Dijon but after all the hard work, they lost control of the pace in the final kilometre. Speaking after the stage, Cavendish also said that he might have suffered something of a record-breaker’s hangover.

“Last night was a little bit strange,” he said. “I was a little bit in shock. Geraint [Thomas] kept saying to me today: ‘Why are you starting?’ but we are here as a team. Thirty-five is just a number. We want to try and win whatever we can. It’s obvious now, after 15 Tours, the respect I show this race.”

Friday’s 23.5km time trial route from Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin may well have oenologists drooling, but it is unlikely to be to the taste of the defending champion, Jonas Vingegaard.

Vingegaard, short of pre-race preparation after his serious crash in April, is unlikely to reproduce the barnstorming ride against the clock that broke Pogacar’s resistance in last year’s Tour stage to Combloux.

“To be honest, I haven’t seen the course yet,” Vingegaard said in Dijon. “I should have been there to do a recon of it, but then I crashed and couldn’t do it. I’ll just do my best and then we will have to see what the result will be tomorrow.”

Source: theguardian.com