Groenewegen sprints to victory on stage seven

Groenewegen had enough of a cushion to celebrate as he crossed the line

Dylan Groenewegen had enough of a cushion to celebrate as he crossed the line

Dylan Groenewegen took an emphatic win in a bunch sprint finish on stage seven of the Tour de France as Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas stayed second overall.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Groenewegen pulled clear of Fernando Gaviria to win comfortably and deny the Colombian a third stage win at this year’s race.

Peter Sagan was third as the sprinters tussled in a late frenzy in Chartres after 231km that lacked drama.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish appeared in contention but slipped to 10th late on.

Cavendish, who is chasing a 31st stage win to close on the Tour record of 34 held by Belgian Eddy Merckx, said a late collision hampered his finish but conceded other teams are in better form.

“I was following quite good wheels but it was choppy,” said Team Dimension Data rider Cavendish, 33.

“I went to go but Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe just seem to have another level.

“I kicked but couldn’t match them. I had a little coming together at the end, it may have been my fault and it stopped me dead in my tracks.”

Welshman Thomas is now six seconds behind Greg van Avermaet in the leader’s yellow jersey after the BMC rider surged off the front of the peloton to take three seconds at a bonus sprint point.

“It was a long day in the saddle – the final was super fast and stressful but that’s another day done,” Thomas told BBC Radio 5 live.

“The first week has been good but it would have been nice to wear the yellow jersey. I could have not asked for much more, though.”

Fellow Britons Adam Yates and four-time winner Chris Froome finished safely in the bunch and remain 13th and 14th respectively, one minute five seconds behind Van Avermaet.

The new school

Dutchman Groenewegen, 25, proved himself as one of the most talented young sprinters by winning the final stage of last year’s Tour on the Champs Elysees but had struggled so far this year.

“It was very difficult, I didn’t have good legs in the beginning of the Tour and my timing was missing but I did it here,” he said.

The manner of his second Tour win was particularly impressive, not needing a lead-out man and swinging round the outside of Gaviria to beat him by two bike lengths.

If he maintains his form, Groenewegen could establish a new dominant sprint trio alongside Gaviria and the reliable Sagan in this Tour.

In contrast, Cavendish was again boxed in even before he clipped wheels with Alexander Kristoff, while of the Briton’s previous main rivals, Andre Greipel faded to eighth and Marcel Kittel, who won five stages last year, could not contest the finale.

Should stage lengths be capped?

This was the longest stage of this year’s Tour and clearly one the peloton had marked out as a chance to have a relatively sedate day, the stage ending about 15 minutes after the latest scheduled finish time.

Two groups tried and failed to break clear before Frenchman Yoann Offredo hit out alone, only to be caught with 90km to go. His compatriot Laurent Pichon then attacked but was reeled in with ease 50km later.

The only other moment of note before the sprint finish was AG2R La Mondiale attacking to briefly to split the peloton into three groups in a rare crosswind, but the race came back together quickly once the wind changed direction.

“Maybe they should just have the stages at less than 200km in Grand Tours, it would be more exciting for everyone,” Thomas told ITV4.

Another sprint on stage eight?

Saturday’s eighth stage takes the race 181km from Dreux to Amiens with another bunch sprint finish expected.

In his stage-by-stage guide for BBC Sport, Cavendish said: “Another bunch sprint, although this time it’s a bit more of a technical finish.

“It’s a difficult sprint to get right when you have a corner with 600m to go but it’s one I’ve done before and the sprinters will be looking forward to it before we have to take a back seat for a few stages.”

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Stage seven result

1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) 5hrs 43mins 42secs

2. Fernando Gaviria (Col/Quick-Step Floors) same time

3. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe)

4. Arnaud Demare (Fra/Groupama-FDJ)

5. Christophe Laporte (Fra/Cofidis)

6. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo)

7. Daryl Impey (SA/Mitchelton-Scott)

8. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Soudal)

9. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

10. Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Dimension Data)

General classification after stage seven

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 28hrs 19mins 25secs

2. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +6secs

3. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +8secs

4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors) +9secs

5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +15secs

6. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +21secs

7. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First) +48secs

8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +54secs

9. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-Hansgrohe) +55secs

10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +56secs

Selected others:

13. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min 5secs

14. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) same time

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44823987

Martin wins stage six as Thomas climbs to second overall

Dan Martin wins stage six of the Tour de France

Dan Martin had the strength to hold off the chasing pack after a short and sharp final climb

Ireland’s Dan Martin produced a superb late attack on the Mur de Bretagne to win stage six of the Tour de France.

Birmingham-born Martin went with a kilometre to go on the final climb and held off the late challenge of Pierre Roger Latour by a second.

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas was part of a group three seconds behind but climbed to second overall after securing two bonus seconds during the stage.

Chris Froome was eight seconds back and Tom Dumoulin nearly a minute behind.

The Dutchman had to have a front wheel change just over 5km from the finish and chased desperately with the help of team-mates to try to limit the damage – only to be handed a 20-second penalty for drafting behind a team car.

Britain’s Adam Yates finished sixth on the day in the pack three seconds back, and has vaulted above Froome in the overall standings.

The pair are 13th and 14th, one minute two seconds behind yellow jersey Greg van Avermaet, and 21 seconds ahead of Dumoulin.

Martin proves strongest on uphill finish

The stage, which finished with a second ascent of the category-three Mur de Bretagne, delivered the dramatic climax that the organisers had hoped for.

Martin’s surge for the line was decisive as he secured his second stage win in the Tour, five years after his maiden success in the Pyreenes.

“It is great to get a win after so many second places since the last one,” said the 31-year-old.

“I wasn’t sure because of the crosswinds, but I had no team-mates and I thought I would have a go.

“The legs were there though – maybe it was adrenaline – and luckily it worked out.”

Froome reveals weakness?

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Froome fought back from behind to claim the Giro d’Italia title earlier this year

As Martin rode clear, a host of general classification contenders endured the most testing examination of their credentials so far.

Froome, in pursuit of his fifth Tour de France title and fourth successive Grand Tour victory, let five seconds slip in the overall standings to encourage rivals, of whom Dumoulin was Thursday’s biggest loser.

After securing two bonus seconds at the ‘bonification’ sprint‚Äč, Thomas said he went for them “because I saw the opportunity”.

“I don’t think they are going to let me get away with it again,” said Thomas, who has been given licence to ride for himself for the first nine stages of the Tour at least.

The 181km (112-mile) stage had earlier been brought to life by New Zealander Dion Smith forming part of a five-man breakaway in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to wrestle the polka-dot jersey from Tom Skujins.

Stage six result

1. Daniel Martin (Ire/UAE Team Emirates) 4hrs 13mins 43secs

2. Pierre Latour (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +1 secs

3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +3 secs

4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors) same time

5. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora – Hansgrohe)

6. Adam Yates (Gbr/Mitchelton – Scott)

7. Bauke Mollema (Ned/Trek – Segafredo)

8. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora – Hansgrohe)

9. Geraint Thomas (Gbr/Team Sky)

10. Primoz Roglic (Slo/LottoNL – Jumbo)

General classification after stage six

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 13hrs 33mins 56secs

2. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +3secs

3. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +5secs

4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors) +6secs

5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +12secs

6. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +18secs

7. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First) +37secs

8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +51secs

9. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora – Hansgrohe) +52secs

10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +53secs

Selected:

13. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min 2secs

14. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) same time

15. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Sunweb) +1min 23 secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44812485

Sagan sprints to second stage win of 2018 Tour

Peter Sagan (in green) surges clear to win the stage

Peter Sagan showed his versatility as he won a hilly stage with an uphill finish in typically buccaneering style

World champion Peter Sagan outstayed his rivals to win a dramatic uphill sprint finish in Quimper on stage five of the Tour de France.

He made his move with 200m to go, beating Sonny Colbrelli and Philippe Gilbert for his second stage win.

Greg van Avermaet stayed in the yellow jersey, extending his overall lead with a two-second bonus during the stage.

He came seventh, behind Ireland’s Dan Martin, while Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton.

In an impressive performance from Team Sky, Froome’s team-mate Geraint Thomas came home 12th. The Welshman is fourth in the general classification, five seconds off Van Avermaet.

Sagan’s skills to the fore

On a rolling, twisting 204km stage, which demanded technical skills throughout and canny tactics at the finish, Sagan’s ability came to the fore.

The 28-year-old, who has represented his country in mountain biking at the Olympics, plotted his path to the finish superbly, overhauling Colbrelli in the final few metres.

Excluding Monday’s team trial, Sagan has two second-placed finishes and two stage victories from the Tour’s five race days so far.

He won five successive points classifications until 2016 before his run ended last year with disqualification following a crash involving Mark Cavendish.

With a 33-point lead over second-placed Colombian Fernando Gaviria and nearly 100 points over the rest of the field, he may well carry the green jersey all the way to Paris.

Thomas to be unleashed for second week?

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Thomas has only one Tour de France stage win to his name

Thomas claimed before the start of the Tour that Team Sky would permit him to compete as a contender for the overall title – rather than as support for four-time champion Froome – until at least Monday’s first rest day.

The plan is apparently to review the situation from there.

So far the 32-year-old has done his best to ensure he is given longer to chase yellow for himself.

His current contract with Sky expires at the end of 2018.

And, although he is rumoured to be close to a renewal, a strong showing as a lead rider, combined with his recent win in the Criterium du Dauphine, would only strengthen his hand in negotiations with them or other teams.

Sky’s Rowe in ‘pantomime’ banner row

Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford says the behaviour of some fans at the roadside in France is bordering on “pantomime”.

And it is his riders who have been cast as the villains, with some fans protesting against Sky and lead rider Froome after an anti-doping case against the four-time Tour winner was recently dropped by cycling chiefs.

“To a large extent it feels like a pantomime, but as the guy responsible for all the riders and our staff I still have to take it very seriously,” Brailsford said.

“I know how much work the race organisers have put into security, but some of the fans are behaving the way they are because what they believe is a long way from the truth.”

He was speaking after Sky’s Luke Rowe had earlier snatched a protester’s banner which read: “Sky – Go home.”

The protester, local resident Didier Bregardes, told reporters he was unhappy with the way Sky had handled the doping allegations.

Rowe, though, played down the altercation, saying it was “light-hearted and no big deal” and that he had been laughing and joking with the man.

“Does this pantomime have a darker side to it? That’s a fair comment because a lot of people who chuckle and join in, but there are definitely people out there for whom this is not pantomime in the humorous context,” Brailsford added.

It came on the day the World Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement about the Froome case to “clarify elements that have been subject to much speculation and misinformation”.

Stage five result

1. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) 4hrs 48mins 6sec

2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita/Bahrain – Merida) same time

3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors)

4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar)

5. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors)

6. Daniel Martin (Ire/UAE Team Emirates)

7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing)

8. Soren Kragh (Den/Sunweb)

9. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita/Wanty – Groupe Gobert)

10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain – Merida)

General classification after stage five

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 13hrs 33mins 56secs

2. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +2 secs

3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +3secs

4. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +5secs

5. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors) +6secs

6. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +9secs

7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Sunweb) +13secs

8. Soren Kragh Andersen (Den/Sunweb) same time

9. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First) +37secs

10. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora – Hansgrohe) +52secs

Selected:

15. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +57secs

16. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min 2secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44798610

Gaviria takes second Tour stage win in thrilling sprint finish

Gaviria (right) timed his sprint expertly but still had to re-take the lead just metres from the line

Fernando Gaviria (right) had to kick twice to deny Andre Greipel (centre) and Peter Sagan (left)

Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria held off Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel in a thrilling sprint finish to win stage four of the Tour de France in Sarzeau.

The Quick-Step Floors rider, who also won the Tour’s first stage, had to kick twice to deny Greipel after the German edged in front close to the line.

Sagan nipped in for second as Greipel faded after the peloton finally caught a four-man breakaway with 1km to go.

BMC Racing’s Greg van Avermaet retained the leader’s yellow jersey.

The Belgian, who took the overall lead on Monday, avoided a crash that split the peloton with 5km to go.

His team-mate Tejay van Garderen is second in the general classification, with Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas three seconds back in third.

Four-time winner Chris Froome finished safely in the bunch to remain 52 seconds further adrift, although he moved up one position to 17th, one place ahead of fellow Briton Adam Yates, after Katusha-Alpecin’s Ilnur Zakarin was caught behind the late crash.

“It was another stressful day and another big crash which only adds to the stress,” Thomas told BBC Radio 5 live.

“It was nice to get through unscathed. I felt pretty good but we will get more of a sense on Wednesday where we will get the first solid day.”

Mark Cavendish was caught out of position in the final stages and unable to contest the sprint.

Gav the new Cav?

Gaviria continues to make one of the most assured Tour debuts by a sprinter – he has won two of four stages, including taking the first yellow jersey of the race.

After a period in which Grand Tour sprints were dominated by Cavendish, Greipel and latterly Marcel Kittel, the 23-year-old’s performances so far suggest he is capable of supremacy.

This was more impressive than his opening stage win, taking the sprint out but still finding the power to kick again as Greipel threatened to blitz past.

With Gaviria also benefiting from the strength of his Quick-Step team, his early success here is reminiscent of how Cavendish, then also 23, announced himself with four stage wins at the 2008 Tour.

And with potentially five more sprint finishes to come, the other sprinters in the race face a daunting task to deny Gaviria more glory.

And what about Cav?

In contrast to Gaviria, Cavendish has looked short of form and confidence as he tries to add to his 30 stage wins in pursuit of Eddy Merckx’s record of 34.

The Briton did not feature on the opening two stages, when he or his Dimension Data team-mates got caught up in late crashes, but still could not contend despite avoiding the chaos here.

With the four-man breakaway – Dimitri Claeys, Anthony Perez, Guillaume van Keirsbulck and Jerome Cousin – threatening to outwit the peloton, Cavendish’s team took responsibility on the front to make the catch and lead the race on the left of a long drag to the finish.

But Cavendish soon found himself swamped and without a team-mate to follow as the race splintered in the final 500m, outflanked on the left by Quick-Step’s lead-out train and then ultimately cut off by Dylan Groenewegen.

Cavendish threw his hand up in protest at the Dutchman, but the leading trio had already surged well clear.

“I was pushed off [lead-out man] Mark Renshaw’s wheel and, in that block headwind, once you’re not on a wheel you have to put in double the watts,” Cavendish told ITV4.

“I thought the left side would be close but then it opened up and Quick-Step went through and I ended up blocked by my own lead-out man effectively, but it was my fault – I shouldn’t have been there.”

The hills arrive on stage five

Wednesday’s fifth stage is the first hilly one of the race as riders tackle five categorised climbs over 204km from Lorient to Quimper.

In his stage-by-stage guide for BBC Sport, Cavendish said: “Although we don’t go to high altitude, the actual climbing kilometres will add up quickly because it is up and down all day on small roads with loads of lefts and rights.

“It will be important to stay near the front and keep your team around you. I don’t see a massive group coming in together in Quimper but it will be a group of one-day classics specialists and I expect to see something between Van Avermaet, Sagan and Michael Matthews.”

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Stage four result

1. Fernando Gaviria (Col/Quick-Step Floors) 4hrs 25mins 1sec

2. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) same time

3. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Soudal)

4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo)

5. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Katusha-Alpecin)

6. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/UAE Team Emirates)

8. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo)

9. Dion Smith (NZ/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

10. Timothy Dupont (Bel/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

General classification after stage four

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 13hrs 33mins 56secs

2. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) same time

3. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +3secs

4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +5secs

5. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors) +7secs

6. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) same time

7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Sunweb) +11secs

8. Soren Kragh Andersen (Den/Sunweb) same time

9. Michael Matthews (Aus/Sunweb)

10. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First) +35secs

Selected:

17. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +55secs

18. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44784290

Van Avermaet leads Tour after BMC stage win

The BMC racing team produced a superb team time trial to claim stage three

BMC also won the team time trial stages at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Suisse this year

BMC Racing won the team time trial on stage three of the Tour de France to put Greg van Avermaet into the race lead as Chris Froome made up time on several key rivals.

Belgium’s Van Avermaet was part of the BMC group that clocked 38 minutes 46 seconds on the 35.5km route in Cholet.

The 33-year-old takes the yellow jersey from stage-two winner Peter Sagan.

Team Sky were second fastest, four seconds down on BMC, to help four-time winner Froome climb the standings.

The Briton is 18th overall – 55 seconds behind Van Avermaet – but has restored parity with most of the overall contenders after losing time in a crash on stage one.

He said he was “really happy” with Team Sky’s performance, despite missing the chance to put Geraint Thomas into the race lead. The Welshman is third overall, three seconds behind Van Avermaet.

“It was a strong effort from everyone,” added Froome. “I’m feeling good and looking forward to the next few days.”

Quick-Step Floors finished third on the stage, seven seconds adrift of BMC, while Adam Yates’ Mitchelton-Scott squad were two seconds further back, putting the 25-year-old Briton 20th overall, five seconds behind Froome.

Regain instead of gain

Before the Tour, BMC, Team Sky and Mitchelton-Scott would have targeted this stage as an opportunity for their respective leaders Richie Porte, Froome and Yates to put time into rivals whose teams are weaker against the clock.

After all three fell on stage one and lost 51 seconds to Romain Bardet, Tom Dumoulin, Mikel Landa, Vincenzo Nibali and Rigoberto Uran, all three teams made amends superbly.

Mitchelton-Scott went out first and set the mark at 38.55, Team Sky shaved five seconds off that next up before BMC, starting fifth, laid down the eventual winning time.

Movistar could manage only 10th place, surrendering almost all of the lead Landa and Alejandro Valverde had over Froome and ensuring Nairo Quintana falls even further back after his crash on stage one.

Bardet’s AG2R La Mondiale team and Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida outfit tried to limit their losses but could not prevent Porte, Froome and Yates erasing their leads in the standings.

World time trial champion Dumoulin and his Sunweb team put in a strong ride to move him into seventh, 40 seconds ahead of Froome, while Education First’s Uran had a solid day to move into the top 10.

Swansong for BMC?

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There are doubts over the future of BMC beyond this season

BMC’s owner and financial backer Andy Rihs died in April and the team are yet to secure a major sponsor for next year, leading to uncertainty over whether the team will continue.

There are also reports that team leader Porte has already agreed a two-year deal with Trek-Segafredo, but the American outfit shrugged off those concerns to continue their recent dominance in team time trials.

“It’s a fantastic day to win the stage with the team like that, especially with the passing of Andy Rihs this year, so that’s a special feeling,” said Australian Porte.

Having dropped stage one winner Fernando Gaviria early on, a ragged but rapid Quick-Step tried to put Philippe Gilbert into yellow, with the Belgian going into the stage with a two-second gap over compatriot Van Avermaet.

But once those crucial seconds elapsed, Van Avermaet could celebrate a return to the yellow jersey, having worn it for three stages during the 2016 Tour.

Sagan was never in contention to defend the jersey and was dropped by his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates, falling to three minutes behind Van Avermaet.

What about stage four?

Tuesday’s stage four is expected to end in a bunch sprint, with the race travelling 195km from La Baule to Sarzeau.

In his stage-by-stage guide for BBC Sport, Mark Cavendish said: “There is nothing of great difficulty and there’s a nice fast run-in to the finish.

“It does drag slightly uphill in the last kilometre but with it being a straight road and not coming in off a corner it should mean a bunch sprint.”

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Stage three result

1. BMC Racing (US) 38mins 46secs

2. Team Sky (GB) +4secs

3. Quick-Step Floors (Bel) +7secs

4. Mitchelton Scott (Aus) +9secs

5. Team Sunweb (Ger) +11secs

6. EF Education First-Drapac (US) +35secs

7. Bora-Hansgrohe (Ger) +50secs

8. Astana (Kaz) +51secs

9. Katusha-Alpecin (Swi) +52secs

10. Movistar (Spa) +53secs

General classification after stage three

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 9hrs 8mins 55secs

2. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) same time

3. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +3secs

4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +5secs

5. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +7secs

6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors) same time

7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +11secs

8. Soren Kragh Andersen (Den/Team Sunweb) same time

9. Michael Matthews (Aus/Team Sunweb)

10. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First-Drapac) +35secs

Selected:

18. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +55secs

20. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44770982

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