Dylan Groenewegen completes crash comeback with Tour de France stage triumph

Dutch rider claims victory by millimetres in thrilling spring finish

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A day after Fabio Jakobsen, it was the turn of Dylan Groenewegen to complete his own comeback from their horror crash two years ago as he won Stage 3 of the Tour de France in Sondeborg.

Groenewegen narrowly beat yellow jersey wearer Wout Van Aert, Jasper Philipsen and Peter Sagan as the 182km stage from Vejle – the last of this Danish Grand Depart – was decided by millimetres.

Groenewegen rode the wheels and came around first Sagan and then Van Aert to claim his fifth career Tour stage win and first since 2019.

For much of the last two years, Groenewegen has dealt with the aftermath of the high-speed crash at the Tour of Poland that left Saturday’s stage winner Jakobsen with life-threatening injuries.

Groenewegen shouldered much of the blame for an incident in which the design of the course was certainly culpable, facing death threats and being given a nine-month ban by world governing body the UCI.

The 29-year-old, who broke a collarbone in the crash, did not face anything like the physical recovery Jakobsen did but has spoken of the mental scars that were left behind, and there was an emotional reaction after this win.

“It was a long way [back],” the Bike Exchange-Jayco rider said. “I want to say thank you to my team and my family and friends for getting me back to the Tour in good shape. It’s beautiful.

“Not physically but mentally it’s been a hard time of course after all that happened. This is for my wife and my son, it means a lot.”

Groenewegen said he had been held up in a late crash that split the peloton on the approach to town, though he was in the right place when it mattered.

“Yesterday I was a little bit angry with myself but today, though I was a long time boxed in and involved in a crash with nine kilometres to go, my team brought me back into position and I stayed calm to the end,” he added.

That crash – in which Chris Froome hit the deck for a second day running – caught out a number of riders though the main favourites made it through.

Van Aert’s second place kept him in the yellow jersey, now with a seven-second advantage over Yves Lampaert thanks to more bonus seconds.

UAE Team Emirates' defending champion Tadej Pogacar remains third, 14 seconds down, and others moved up as the split caused by that crash took its toll.

Primoz Roglic is up to seventh, 23 seconds off yellow, with Ineos Grenadiers pair Adam Yates and Tom Pidcock now both inside the top 10.

Geraint Thomas is 12th, 32 seconds down, going into Monday’s transfer day as the race moves to France with a lumpy stage around Calais to come on Tuesday before the cobbles on Wednesday.

Many riders will be sorry to leave Denmark behind after some wonderful scenes as fans lined the roads over all three days.

The extent to which the Tour had embraced its host nation was apparent as a number of riders conducted pre-stage interviews dressed in Viking helmets on Sunday.

Local favourite Magnus Cort Nielsen then set off a lone breakaway to ensure he would retain the polka dot jersey, and the EF Education-EasyPost rider was able to enjoy the adulation of the crowds alone for 129km.

“The start in Denmark has been a pretty amazing experience,” Adam Yates said. “The crowd has been out in force and there’s not been many kilometres on the road where the crowd’s not been at least two deep.

“We’ve done a good job so far, it’s a rest day tomorrow and we’ll recover for what’s coming up.”

Updated: July 03, 2022, 4:58 PM