Aussie’s frustration grows as Dutchman steals Tour stage
THE longest day of the Tour de France ended with its smallest winning margin, as Aussie Caleb Ewan was denied yet again in a chaotic sprint at the end of stage seven.
The Aussie pocket rocket was beaten by Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen after 230km - a quarter of a wheel the tiny difference between the pair, while Peter Sagan was third.
Ewan, riding his maiden Tour de France for Lotto-Soudal, has finished third (stage one), third (stage four) and second (stage seven) in the three sprint stages and the wait for his breakthrough victory at the world's biggest bike race continues.
"Obviously it's frustrating. Obviously I want to get a win and I feel like I have the legs to do it," Ewan said at the finish.
"But I've been in this position before where I haven't won in the first week of a grand tour and I've come back, so I'm still confident I can do it.
"I've showed in the last few sprints that I'm right there and today I was really close."
On mundane day when the riders spend more than six hours in the saddle on flat terrain, the stage predictably exploded in the final run-in as the fast men launched their bids for glory.
Ewan had Peter Sagan's wheel, while Groenewegen was following Ewan.
Groenwegen went first, breaking to his left, while Ewan went half a second later to his right with Viviani before the Italian got a front-wheel puncture at the worst possible time.
Ewan and Groenewegen surged to the line at 63km/h, with a photo finish showing the latter had won by a nose.
"Every time I sprint against Caleb (Ewan), it's always very close. He's a very good sprinter, but today I could beat him and I'm very happy with this result," Groenewegen said.
Ewan said he had been in the "perfect position".
"I know with a little bit more luck on my side I can definitely get a win," he said.
"I was coming quite quick, but in the end just not quick enough.
"I just wanted the team to basically put me on a good wheel and that's exactly what they did. Usually in the last kilometre I can kind of do it by myself and that's what I did today.
"I followed the right wheels and I started my sprint when I wanted to start it and I almost did it perfectly, but Dylan was just quicker."
Richie Porte finished safely in the bunch, but showing his patriotism, asked after Ewan at the finish much like he did with Michael Matthews on stage one.
"Caleb deserves it. On his day he's the fastest and I'd love to see him get a stage here," Porte said.
American Tejay van Garderen and Stage 1 winner Mike Teunissen crashed only 7km into the stage, with van Garderen left with skin off his face and an uncomfortable day.
But it what was an otherwise comfortable day for the title contenders, with Trek-Segafredo's Giulio Ciccone retaining the yellow jersey ahead of Saturday's much tougher stage eight from Macon to Saint-Etienne.
STAGE 7 RESULTS
1. Dylan Groenewegen, Netherlands, Team Jumbo-Visma, 6:02:44.
2. Caleb Ewan, Australia, Lotto Soudal, same time
3. Peter Sagan, Slovakia, Bora-Hansgrohe, same time
4. Sonny Colbrelli, Italy, Bahrain-Merida, same time
5. Jasper Philipsen, Belgium, UAE Team Emirates, same time
6. Elia Viviani, Italy, Deceuninck-QuickStep, same time
7. Giacomo Nizzolo, Italy, Dimension Data, same time
8. Jasper Stuyven, Belgium, Trek-Segafredo, same time
9. Michael Matthews, Australia, Team Sunweb, same time
10. Alexander Kristoff, Norway, UAE Team Emirates, same time
1. Giulio Ciccone (ITA/Trek) 29hrs 17mins 39sec
2. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/DEC) at 6sec
3. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BAH) at 32
4. George Bennett (NZL/JUM) 47m
5. Geraint Thomas (GBR/INE) 49
6. Egan Bernal (COL/INE) 53
7. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 58
8. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/JUM) at 1min 04sec
9. Michael Woods (CAN/EF1) 1:13
10. Rigoberto Uran (COL/EF1) 1:15
21. Richie Porte (AUS/TRE) 1:56, 25
Green sprint points jersey:
1. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOR) 177 pts,
2. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAH) 121
3. Elia Viviani (ITA/DEC) 117
4. Michael Matthews (AUS/SUN) 116
5. Caleb Ewan (AUS/LOT) 76
6. Matteo Trentin (ITA/MIT) 75
7. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/CCC) 70
8. Dylan Groenewegen (NED/JUM) 66
9. Mike Teunissen (NED/JUM) 64
10. Jasper Stuyven (BEL/TRE) 63
Polka dot mountain points jersey:
1. Tim Wellens (BEL/LOT) 43 pts
2. Giulio Ciccone (ITA/TRE) 30
3. Xandro Meurisse (BEL/WGG) 27
4. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BAH) 13
5. Natnael Berhane (ERI/COF) 13
6. Toms Skujins (LAT/TRE) 9
7. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/LOT) 8
8. Geraint Thomas (GBR/INE) 4
9. Simon Clarke (AUS/EF1) 4
10. Yoann Offredo (FRA/WGG) 3
1. Trek 88hrs 27mins 39sec
2. Movistar at 1min 39sec.
3. Groupama-FDJ 2:04.
4. Education First 4:26.
5. Jumbo-Visma 8:31.
6. Ineos 8:34.
7. Bahrain Merida 10:20.
8. UAE Emirates 11:03.
9. Astana 11:40.
10. AG2R La Mondiale 13:28.