For this year's Tour de France we've teamed up with The Velocast to share with you their nominated Conquistador of the Day. During their daily stage review podcast, Scott and John will announce the rider who they feel deserves a special mention for their efforts that day.
Stage 7 was what the organisers of the Tour de France call "flat". Despite the three categorised climbs, the hilly terrain came early enough in the race the to ensure the pure sprinters were there at the business end to contest the bunch gallop in Chalon-sur-Saône.
John Galloway of The Velocast talks us through the final few hundred meters of the bunch gallop and explains why Dylan Groenewegen is his Conquistador of the Day:
"It was very, very close. I don't think it would have been close had Dylan Groenewegen had any kind of leadout. We saw Elia Viviana benefit once again from what is definitely the best leadout train in the business just now, Michael Mørkøv and Maximiliano Richeze particularly. Viviani faded badly and really let them down. I don't know if he burnt too many matches yesterday, whether the distance was just too long, or if that slight ramp at the finish was too much for him, but I really expected more of Viviani with those guys sitting foursquare in front of him giving him every bit of help that he needed.
We saw Caleb Ewan again showing that he's perfectly capable of the win, but he maybe just mistimes it slightly or just doesn't have the leadout that he needs. Ewan is on top form. I really expect him to take away a win soon.
We saw Peter Sagan finish again right up there. He's gaining point after point just by being ruthlessly consistent. He's making enough effort to get some points in the intermediates, it was a really lacklustre intermediate sprint today but Sagan was still there getting the points. And in the finish where the points are more valuable, Sagan's up there. Day after day he's racking up green jersey points and it looks like its glued onto his back now unless he has an incident.
But for me, rider of the day was Dylan Groenewegen. We saw some fantastic work early on in the finalé from Wout Van Aert particularly to keep the speed high and keep things together so that Groenewegen would have a chance.
We talked the other day about Mike Teunissen and his relationship with Groenewegen and how had he just had a bad day because he wasn't doing his leadout job. Today again we saw he made a couple of cursory head nods to see where his leader was but made no effort whatsoever to get across and give Dylan any help. And then when Dylan Groenewegen finally went and made a magnificent solo effort from quite far back, when he's been left on his own and his leadout train was nowhere, he went at exactly the right point to slightly get the jump on some of the other guys, Mike Teuinessen sprinted to try and get in his wheel. What's going on with that?
It just made no sense whatsoever. So an absolutely magnificent ride from Groenewegen to take the victory in a difficult finalé. He's definitely the fastest sprinter in the peloton just now. But he really needs a bit more help and Mike Teunissen is that help. He's a classy rider. He's a good enough rider. He's done the job in the past. I don't know if he's just had his head slightly turned by that success he had at the start of the Tour. But it was a good sprint in the end.
I really don't begrudge them today's stage. We saw some magnificent field art including a horse with a time trial rider early on - absolutely amazing! It was one of those days where if you just sat back and let it wash all over you it was fine and we'll get back to the action tomorrow. But if this was the first day you ever watched professional cycling I'm pretty sure you'd become a cricket fan!
Dylan Groenewegen then is my Conquistador of the Day. I try very hard not to chose the winner because it's easy. You could choose the winner every day and say - well he crossed the line first and so he's clearly the Conquistador of the Day.
For me, the performance today was that Groenewegen was his own man. Teunissen was irrelevant in the finish. Yes, the team had worked hard to put Groenewegen in the situation where he was in there in the finalé and special mention has to go to Wout Van Aert for that.
But the way that he jumped early from far back and got such a closing speed that when the other guys realised what was happening it was too late. At that point, Viviani's leadout train had failed him. Caleb Ewan jumped. Peter Sagan saw what was happening but was almost a spectator as Ewan went on one side and Groenewegen went on the other.
It was just the sheer tactical nouse of Dylan Groenewegen today and the courage to jump early and hard that means for me he was my rider of the day. It was always going to come down to a sprint rider today unless a breakaway had succeeded and the best of them wasn't just the winner he was actually the bravest of the sprinters and I think it was a great ride from Dylan Groenewegen today."
STAGE SUMMARY FROM ASO
Dylan Groenewegen avenged his recent woes in the Tour de France when he outsprinted the bunch to snatch the longest stage in this Tour de France over 230 km between Belfort and Chalon-sur-Saone. The Dutchman, hampered by a crash in stage 1, when his lead-out man Mike Teunissen won the stage and took the yellow jersey, made amends with a commanding sprint, which he won ahead of Australian Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and points leader Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Breakaway addicts Stephane Rossetto and Yoann Offredo stayed in the front for 218 km before leaving the stage for the sprinters to take the limelight. Italy's Giulio CIccone finished in the pack and retained his yellow jersey.
The start was given at 11:35 to all 174 riders who finished yesterday. On the gun, Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) embarked on a long duo in the longest stage of this edition. At kilometer 8, several riders, including Tejay Van Garderen (Education First) and former yellow jersey holder Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) crashed but managed to make it back on their bikes. Van Garderen had to be treated by the medical with bruises on his face and knees. The lead of the two escapees increased regularly and topped at 5:40 at kilometre 40 when the peloton decided to keep the gap within five minutes.
Cat and mouse
Offredo and Rossetto shared the KOM points on the three climbs of the day (two points for Rossettto, two for Offredo) ridden at a reasonable pace (35 kph) because of headwind. Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) crashed with 130 km to go but was quickly back in the pack. The peloton, constantly led by Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma), Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal) brought the gap down under two minutes with 60 km left in the stage while quelling counterattack attempts.
Sprint and split
The only intermediate sprint of the day, 33 km from the finish, led the peloton to move up a gear. While Offredo crossed the line in front of Rossetto, the battle was fierce behind them for green jersey points -- Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) crossed the line ahead of green jersey holder Peter Sagan, Elia Viviani and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb). While the pack was nearly catching the two front riders, a number of riders were caught in a split at the back, among them Nairo Quintana, Dan Martin, Wout Van Aert or Simon Yates. They made it back as the pack kept controlling the two escapees.
Dylan sings again
The 218-km break was brought to an end with 12 km to go as the sprinters trains started taking shape while the GC teams also tried to avoid trouble at the front of the bunch. Jumbo-Visma quickly took the reins under the red flame and Caleb Ewan seemed to have the upper hand when he launched the sprint from afar. But Dylan Groenewegen surged back to overtake him by the slimmest margin on the line and conquer his 4th stage win on the Tour de France ahead of the Australian while Sagan added precious points to his green jersey.
Conquistadors of the Day - Tour de France 2019
Stage 1 - Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team)
Stage 2 - Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
Stage 3 - Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick Step)
Stage 4 - Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck - Quick Step)
Stage 5 - Marcus Burghardt (BORA - hansgrohe)
Stage 6 - Geraint Thomas (Team INEOS)
Stage 7 - Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo - Visma)
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