Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
Sport | By Patty Hardy

Dutchman takes Tour stage - Martin in the bunch

Dutchman takes Tour stage - Martin in the bunch

While they fought back to join the chase group, a third group led by Lotto and their rider Primoz Roglic struggled to stay in touch.

A group of five riders broke early on the 181km run from Brest to Mur-de-Bretagne and when the Quick Step team of stage contender Julian Alaphilippe suddenly accelerated on a plain, the peloton split into three with 100km remaining.

"It was a brutal stage, just brutal", Froome said.

"I just keep trying, our backs are against the wall all the time here. I don't know what happened - maybe adrenaline - but I wasn't going to let anyone beat me".

"I have my own style", he said when asked about his similarity to the veteran Manxman with 39 stage wins under his belt.

Race favorite Chris Froome crossed safely in the main pack.

Froome is 14th, 1:05 behind Van Avermaet.

Groenewegen burst around Gaviria, however, to take his first stage win of this year's race and second of his career at the Tour having won on the Champs-Elysees in 2017.

Today he certainly made good on his threat. I thought when I first kicked I was floating, I was quite excited.

After crossing the line, Groenewegen placed his finger to his lips in a gesture of silence.

"I'm hoping still to improve", the Slovakian said.

The 231-kilometer (143.5-mile) trek from Fougeres, home to the best-preserved and largest medieval fortress in Europe, concluded in Chartres, site of a vast cathedral known for its stained-glass windows.

The stage, the longest of this year's Tour, was ridden at such a serene pace at times it might have been mistaken for the first rest day. "You can ask the question, is this really necessary in a Grand Tour?"

"The Mur de Bretagne is much harder than this", said Van Avermaet, who would not rule Sagan out of contention for the sixth stage.

After a few early attacks failed, Yoann Offredo launched a solo effort 35 kilometers in.

Another Frenchman, Laurent Pichon, then tried his luck alone too, but the pace was controlled by the sprinters' teams, and the Fortuneo-Samsic rider was reined in about 40km from the finish.

"I had a little coming together with Alex at the end, it might've been my fault but it just stopped me dead".

The Grand Tour will continue tomorrow with a 181km stage from Dreux to Amiens Métropole.

Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to victory on the seventh stage of the Tour de France in Chartres.

He was allowed to build a lead approaching seven minutes at one stage, but he was eventually brought back.

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