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Tour de France 2018: Groenewegen makes it two from two

Joe Robinson
14 Jul 2018

The Dutchman sprints to victory yet again while Dan Martin loses more time on GC

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) made it two stages out of two winning Stage 8 from Dreux to Amiens Metropole. The Dutchman left it late to launch his sprint eventually coming around Peter Sagan, Fernando Gaviria and Andre Greipal.

Gaviria found himself boxed in by Greipal, even throwing a little headbutt at the German, which allowed Groenewegen the cleaner line to sprint to victory. Greipal took second from Gaviria in third.

In the final 2,500m, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) nipped off the front in the hope of catching some behind napping but this was quickly brought back by Dimension Data and Lotto-Soudal.

A largely uneventful day burst into life with 15km left to race. A small crash brought down Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) and saw him losing ground on his GC rivals. His team were forced into full team time trial mode for the final 15 minutes of racing to get him back onto the peloton.

Martin eventually rolled in around a minute behind the leaders.

In terms of the yellow jersey, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) finished safely in the bunch meaning that he keeps the lead for a sixth day heading into tomorrow's cobble stage to Roubaix, a stage that he will be considered favourite for.

What happened today

Stage 8 of the Tour de France saw the peloton tackle a 181km route from Dreux to Amiens Metropole, a largely flat course that promised to be an opportunity for the race's sprinters.

Yesterday's stage was slow. A one-man breakaway, no riders willing to attack and a touch of headwind. The only true action came in the final 2km as the road narrowed into the final sprint. Eventually, Dutch dynamo Dylan Groenewegen took his second ever Tour stage and the first victory for LottoNL-Jumbo at this year's race.

Today unfortunately followed suit. With the race travelling into a block headwind for most of the day it was never going to be the most exciting of days. A shame considering it was Bastille Day.

The sprinter trains were happy for a break to escape knowing they could easily control with the gap with the weather conditions while the General Classification men to simply wanted to get to the finish line.

Plus tomorrow's stage was clearly already making the peloton nervous. Stage 9 from Arras will be taking the peloton to the cycling Mecca of Roubaix with the small task of 15 sectuers of cobbles in between.

Tomorrow really promises to be a beautiful day for sport fans. Not only does the Tour tackled the cobbles but we have the men's final at Wimbledon and then the football World Cup final in the evening as France take on Croatia. The last time France won a football World Cup, somebody completed the Giro-Tour double. A good omen for Chris Froome (Team Sky)?

Once the flag dropped one rider made an initial attack, Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe). The German got a slight gap, realised no one wanted to join him and then sat back up to reintegrate back into the bunch.

Boredom set back in as the peloton just rolled and rolled without no action happening. I began to wonder if we could potentially see an entire stage pass without a breakaway forming.

Thankfully the Wolfman, Laurens Ten Dam (Team Sunweb) had other ideas. The Dutchman nipped off of the front which sparked Fabian Grellier (Direct-Energie) and Marco Minnard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) to follow. Before long, the trio had a 2 minute 30 gap.

Minnard's presence was a surprise. Wanty-Groupe Gobert were said to be protesting the decision the not give Yohann Offredo the most combative rider prize yesterday by refusing to join the day's break. Clearly they could not resist.

As the three leaders settled, Ten Dam sat up and went for an extended conversation with the commissaire car. After finishing his chat, the Dutchman sat up and drifted back towards the peloton leaving Grellier and Minnard to fight up ahead. Did Ten Dam do a cheeky, force a breakaway then leave the party early?

Look to the front of the peloton and 'El Tractor' Tim Declercq (Quick-Step Floors) was trundling the peloton closer to the line holding the time gap around the four minute mark. Two classified climbs passed without contest before the peloton reached the intermediate sprint.

While Minnard and Grellier took the first two spots, a half-hearted sprint came from the peloton with Arnuad Demare (Groupama-FDJ) taking it from a disinterested Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors).

Between kilometre 90 and kilometre 60 not much happened to be honest. The gap remained steady around the 3 minute mark while the two breakaway riders continued to work. The race headed through a village called Gerberoy that it must be said looked very pretty.

Just under 55km remaining and there was wind! But it was headwind which meant the pace slowed, with riders fanning out across the road behind Declercq and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) who controlled the peloton for kilometre after kilometre.

Minnard and Grellier vs De Gendt and Declercq continued with the latter riders winning. The gap had been brought back to 1 minute 45 with another 41km left still to ride.

Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo) joined the chasing party although the duo ahead extended their lead back out to 2 minutes. This was short lived as the time tumbled to 1 minute 20 as the peloton approach the final bonus seconds sprint of this year's Tour de France.

The time bonuses didn't mean much to Minnard and Grellier with both already far down on General Classification. The final second went to Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), current yellow jersey wearer, who extended his overall lead back out to seven seconds from Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). 

Nerves began to rise with a crash back in the peloton with 15km left. In clear discomfort was Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) who had hit the deck, shorts torn, elbow bloodied. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) also went down and was seen rolling his shoulder and stretching his leg with a grimacing face. 

Increasing the pace of the peloton was Quick-Step Floors, keen to keep Gaviria and Bob Jungels safe from any more falls. Behind, UAE-Team Emirates began to frantically chase back to the peloton having lost 1 minute 30 in the crash. The group swelled with others involved in the crash but few were willing to work alongside Martin's men.

Grellier then pushed on alone - it is Bastille Day after all - with 9km to go managing to hold the peloton at 20 seconds. Behind, Martin's men were sitting at around a minute adrift as they went full team time trial to catch back on.

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