Groenewegen's show of power silences Tour de France critics

Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) won stage seven of the Tour de France, dominating a bunch sprint after nearly six hours in the saddle.

Martin came home second the last time a Tour stage ended in Mur de Bretagne and he admitted he had been obsessed about winning here this time on a punchy climb that suited his abilities. He has a three-second lead over Briton Geraint Thomas of Team Sky and his BMC teammate Tejay Van Gardenan.

Title hopefuls Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) were the big losers of the day. "It was good to finish second back then but this time I was coming for victory", said Martin.

Bardet would lose 31 seconds on the stage in a blow to the Frenchman's general classification hopes, while 2017 Giro d'Italia victor Dumoulin lost 53 seconds. "I thought, why not have a try?"

Bardet was already trailing Froome, and after losing 28 seconds is now 1:45 off the leader's pace after he broke his back wheel and had to change bikes with Tony Gallopin.

Riders twice went up the Mur de Bretagne, or "Wall of Brittany", which the local cycling-crazed Bretons affectionately refer to as their smaller version of the famous Alpe d'Huez.

Dutch rider Dylan Groenewegen won the stage ahead of Fernando Gaviria, who like Sagan has also won two stages in this year's Tour.

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"It's not the first time we have lost a rider on the Tour de France and it won't be the last time either, I guess".

Belgium's Greg van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey, but the BMC Racing rider's lead has dropped to three seconds with Thomas moving up to second.

Martin was one of several team leaders along with former Tour victor Vincenzo Nibali and two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana who were caught off-guard by an attack by Quick-Step midway through the stage during a straightaway that was exposed to crosswinds.

"The first time up the climb, I saw everyone was at the limit".

"I don't know if he did it on goal or if he wanted to drop everybody but I have to say thanks", Sagan said.

A breakaway group of five riders - Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Damien Gaudin and Fabien Grellier (both Direct Energie) - hit the front from the off and built a gap of nearly seven minutes before it stabalised. After the relatively flat first nine days, the race will head south and into the Alps and then the Pyrenees Mountains.

Friday's 231-kilometer seventh stage will take the cyclists from Fougeres to Chartes.

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