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Dutch ace seals stage victory as Thomas steps up title defence


Nice one: Dylan Groenewegen after stage triumph
Nice one: Dylan Groenewegen after stage triumph

By Ian Parker

Team Ineos were happy to see the focus switch from Egan Bernal to Geraint Thomas at the Tour de France as yesterday's long, slow day in the saddle allowed time for the dust to settle on a dramatic first mountain stage of the race.

Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen claimed a sprint victory in Chalon-sur-Saone but only after a 230km stage seven from Belfort which took the peloton more than six hours to tick off.

There were no significant changes to the general classification which took its shape from the drama on La Planche des Belles Filles 24 hours earlier.

Giulio Ciccone retained the yellow jersey, six seconds clear of Julian Alaphilippe, but Thomas was back in the spotlight after his late surge on the climb invigorated his title defence.

The Welshman turned a five-second deficit to Bernal into a four-second advantage on Thursday. Small margins for sure, but given many had expected the day to suit Bernal more, the change of narrative seemed to suit the team.

"What was reassuring was to see Geraint Thomas at this level," said the team's sporting director Nico Portal. "It's good for Egan, who has a lot of pressure around him, especially in Colombia."

Belfast Telegraph


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