Le Tour’17 St21: Golden Groenewegen in Paris – Froome Wins 4th TDF!
Race Report: Dylan Groenewegen has scored two podium places already on stages in the Tour de France this year but he grabbed the best win of his career on the final stage. There were no changes in the overall as Chris Froome secured his fourth Tour title.
The final stage is a celebration for all of the Tour de France finishers and this year was no different. The opening kilometers are filled with champagne and in-jokes with cameramen, but the finishing circuits are brutally tough flat out riding across the cobbles of Paris. A nine man break went away as soon as the race hit the Champs Elysees and they managed to stay away until the final 10km when the Katusha team brought them back. The pace making was then given over to Team Sky who kept the pace high before Katusha once again emerged at the front. As they hit the final kilometer Marco Haller (Katusha) was doing all the work but Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) was surely too close on the second wheel. He was forced to the front as the peloton emerged from the final corner and despite constant pressure from behind he didn’t relinquish the lead and bagged the honors. Both Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) looked like they would save their Tours with a stage win but the stage finished before they could pass the Dutchman.
This is it, the curtain comes down on yet another Tour de France. 167 riders will stream into Paris for the annual sprint stage on the world’s most famous boulevard. At just 103km, this is the shortest road stage of the entire Tour, the riders will start from Montgeron in the south of Paris before trending north to hit the eight laps of the Champs Elysees. Both the cobbles and the hill are worse than people imagine on the Champs Elysees so expect some mechanicals and hard racing as the speed cranks up and up.
There will be, barring any crashes, 167 riders making it onto the Champs Elysees. Despite all the crash news and enforcement of the time cut, that’s actually a pretty high number. In 2016, 174 riders finished, but since 2007, only 2010 and 2013 have seen more riders make it to Paris. Although the stage is usually processional, and attacking during the stage, for GC, is unheard of, the fact that Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Mikel Landa (Sky) are separated by just one second, with the podium up for grabs, there’s a chance that those places could swap around just by virtue of splits opening in the finale.
All Fun and Games
The final stage, apart from when it’s a Tour de France deciding time trial, is a very easy run into Paris filled with champagne and jokes. There has been some discussion that this Tour has been easier than in recent years; the top ten riders have finished within 9.25 of one another, last year the gap was actually 7.11 but in 2015, 2014 and 2013 the gap has been great than 15 minutes. The last rider on GC is Luke Rowe (Sky), 4:35.52 behind, that is way closer than every year since 2013, when Svein Tuft was 4:27.55 behind. Interestingly, the furthest back in that time frame was Chinese rider Ji Cheng who finished 6:02.24 in arrears in 2014 – that was just shy of an hour behind the second last rider, Davide Cimolai. Cimolai will actually finish this Tour as well, he is one of just three riders left in the FDJ team; the other two are Yoann Offredo and Oliver Le Gac.
One other point of interest, I accept that interest is debatable, is that after three weeks of racing, Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) finished with exactly the same time, 2:55.13 behind Froome. In addition to that, Gesbert is the youngest rider on the Tour at just 22 and Voeckler is the third oldest at 38. Regarding age, none of the five riders aged 38 and above have quit the Tour. Of the 29 riders aged 25 or below there has only been one stage win – Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie). We do have two top tens however with Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) and Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates).
There was some drama before the Champs Elysees as Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida) the first ever Ethiopian to take part in the Tour de France, when he started last year, had a fall as the road narrowed. The pace wasn’t quick and he was swiftly back into the peloton. This incident was followed quickly by a Chris Froome (Sky) bike change. The leader had been switching bikes and wheels a lot during the race but this one was more relaxed with such a gradual pace.
As the riders hit the Champs Elysees there was the traditional attacks. This is a hugely watched stage, and anyone who can nip off and spend time in a break do a great job for their team. The lucky few who had emerged in the lead were Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Goubert), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Michael Schar (BMC), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Daryl Impey (Orica-Scott), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Julien Vermote (Quick-Step Floors). As they took their leave, the rain began to fall.
The harshness of the cobbles meant that punctures were familiar and Warren Barguil (Sunweb) was the first to suffer a puncture.
The break had gained thirty seconds but the peloton, led by the teams of Lotto-Soudal, Team Sunweb and Dimension Data were keeping them in check and beginning to draw them back as they crept towards the 30km to go mark and the final four laps. Despite the enormous width of the Champs Elysees, the peloton were lined out in one long line as the sprinter’s teams continued to ramp up the pace. Simon Geschke (Team Sunweb) was doing a huge amount of work for his sprinter, Michael Matthews. The Australian, Matthews, had secured the green jersey, all he needed to do was finish, but he wanted another stage to add to his personal tally of two and Sunweb’s tally of four for the race.
There were just 15km to go but still the breakaway were out ahead. The lead was down to a miserly ten seconds but the peloton hadn’t yet hauled them back and this was beginning to impact the lead out trains, who were already depleted after three weeks of racing.
With 10km left, the break was caught and now Sky were forced to the front. The sprinter’s teams had done a lot of work and were happy to let Sky take up the mantle. The next rider to try their luck was Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) who quickly built up a gap as Katusha took up the chasing. Stybar built up a large lead but it was chipped away at very quickly and he was back in the fold.
It was all Katusha on the front but Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) were moving forwards. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo) was very close to the front and when Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) peeled off, the young Dutchman was forced to the front. The line was a mile away but Groenewegen was yet to fade. Greipel and Bouhanni were closing fast but the line was going to beat them as Groenewegen held on for a fantastic victory. He had started his sprint out of the final corner and despite this, he had held on to beat the rest. Greipel and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) closed out the podium but they would’ve needed another 100m to get ahead of the young Dutchman.
Tour de France Stage 21 Result:
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo in 2:25:39
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
3. Edvlad Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
6. Borut Bozic (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
7. Davide Cimolai (Ita) FDJ
8. Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Oscaro
9. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar
11. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
12. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
13. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
14. Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energie
15. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
16. Olivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ
17. Ben Swift (GB) UAE Team Emirates
18. Jack Bauer (NZ) Quick-Step Floors
19. Taylor Phinney (USA) Cannondale-Drapac
20. Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo-Oscaro
21. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
22. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kaz) Astana
23. Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
24. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
25. Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC.
Tour de France 2017 Final Overall:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 86:20:55
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:54
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 2:20
4. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky at 2:21
5. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 3:05
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors at 4:42
7. Simon Yates (GB) Orica-Scott at 6:14
8. Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates at 8:20
9. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 8:49
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Sunweb at 9:25
11. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 14:48
12. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 15:28
13. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 24:38
14. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky at 25:28
15. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 33:21
16. Brice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo-Oscaro at 36:46
17. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 37:43
18. Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar at 37:47
19. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data at 39:36
20. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 42:04
21. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal at 42:39
22. Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale at 50:04
23. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 53:52
24. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Orica-Scott at 59:58
25. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie at 1:04:22.