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by Neal Rogers
July 13, 2017
In today’s Daily News Digest: Another sprint, another victory for Kittel, who takes fifth stage of Tour de France; Brennauer off to winning start in Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour; Tough day at Tour for Astana: Feed zone crash takes out Cataldo as Fuglsang fractures wrist, elbow; Oh-so-close for Bodnar on Stage 11 of Tour de France; Groenewegen keeps improving, finishes second behind Kittel in Pau; Contador struggling to reconcile recurring bad luck at Tour de France; Stranger Tour? Sagan promotes Netflix as he readies to ‘race in the upside down’; Video: GoPro’s Tour de France Stage 11 highlights; Video: Backstage Pass with Orica-Scott at Stage 10 of the Tour de France; Video: What’s it like to be a mechanic at the Tour de France?
After finishing third in the Stage 10 field sprint, LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to second behind Marcel Kittel on stage 11 of the Tour de France in Pau.
Because the sprints in the Tour are so chaotic, none of the sprint teams have been able to run a textbook leadout train thus far. LottoNL-Jumbo decided to choose another tactic — Robert Wagner swapped positions with Timo Roosen, and Groenewegen tried to anticipate Kittel by starting his sprint earlier. The adjustment in the sprint train almost brought Groenewegen success.
“Everyone had his part and rode well,” Groenewegen said. “We got a long way and I was dropped off in perfect position. I was on Kittel’s wheel, but he’s just still a bit stronger. Normally somebody loses a little bit of speed, but Kittel did not lose speed. He is the strongest at this moment and we have to hope he once makes a mistake.”
“Timo is slightly different than Robert Wagner,” director Nico Verhoeven explained. “He did a good job today. As a result of that, Dylan was in the right place, right in the wheel of Kittel. In contrast to yesterday, Dylan could ride his own sprint. If you are as young as he is, and you finish in third and second place in the Tour de France, you are world-class.”
Beginning in 2016, LottoNL-Jumbo has been working on its sprint train project with Groenewegen. The ambition was to win a stage in the 2018 Tour de France, but after last year’s Tour, the hope turned to this year. Kittel has seemed unbeatable, but the former Dutch champion is getting a bit closer after each sprint.