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Sprint mishap foils Dimension Data in TDF

Dimension

A touch of wheels saw African outfit Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka possibly denied a podium in Friday’s seventh stage of the Tour de France.

Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) won the stage, sprinting to the win in Chartres. Fernando Gaviria (Quickstep-Floors) was second and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished third.

Stage seven was the longest of the race at 231km but the flat nature of the course meant it was another day for the sprinters.

With such a long stage and the inevitable bunch gallop, no riders were keen on trying to make the early break. In the end, the stage was strangely characterised by three separate solo breakaways from Thomas Degand and Yoann Offredo (Wanty Groupe Gobert) and Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo).

As expected, the breakaways came to nothing and the peloton rolled toward Chartres all together for the final 30km. The pace really picked up with 15km to go, though, as the team sprint trains began to get organised and position their sprinters.

Team Dimension Data again looked good with Jay Thomson and Julien Vermote leading the way into the final 5km.

The team then had Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish for the finale.

The sprint started to get a little messy with 2km to go after passing through a couple of roundabouts but Cavendish was still in contention with Renshaw keeping the pace high at the head of affairs.

It was a slight uphill drag to the line so timing the sprint was critical and Cavendish looked to have it down, being on the wheel of Groenewegen when the sprint opened up at 250m to go.

While the Dutchman did look to have everyone beat, Cavendish was looking at a stage podium placing when a rider behind made contact with his rear wheel at 100m to go.

The loss of speed from the contact saw the team’s Manxman cross the line 10th on the stage.

Said lead-out rider Renshaw: ‘It was another quick finish today after a long stage. For us, the wheels kind of fell off our sprint train with 2km to go.

‘We had Cav on my wheel and after the corner, I heard him yelling. That normally means he’s not on the wheel anymore, when I looked back I couldn’t see him so I went to the front to speed it up so that it would least give Cav the chance to move and he could still contest the sprint.

‘We’re going to keep trying, we have another chance tomorrow [Saturday] and I think it’s another slightly uphill finish. We have a great team here that’s been riding well together and showing fight so hopefully we can get a reward for our efforts.’


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