CHARTRES, France - Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen burst past Colombian sprint rival Fernando Gaviria to win the Tour de France seventh stage at the end of a 231 km run from Fougeres to Chartres on Friday.
The Lotto NL-Jumbo rider, who won the final stage to Paris last year, beat Quick Step's Gaviria into second place with Slovakian Peter Sagan (Bora) taking third. Belgian Greg van Avermaet, of BMC, retained the leader's yellow jersey ahead of Saturday's eighth stage.
French duo Arnaud Demare and Christophe Laporte were fourth and fifth respectively as the home nation were left empty-handed for the seventh day in succession. With a notoriously difficult 90 degree bend with 2km to go and speeds hitting 60 km/h, tensions were high over the closing kilometres as the sprinters' teams jockeyed for position.
But the peloton slowed and hostilities began with a 'faux plat' incline to the final 150m, with Sagan's Bora, Gaviria's Quick Step and the winner's Lotto outfit prominent into the final stretch. The peloton set off amid good racing conditions for the longest stage on the race, with a finish line opposite the 800-year-old cathedral of Chartres, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Around 95km from Chartres the peloton split in a cross wind, trapping Thursday's stage winner Dan Martin (Team Emirates) in the second group. The Irishman was swift to react leading his team across the breach within a couple of kilometres.
The lone survivor of a long-range breakaway, Yoann Offredo (Wanty), was reeled in with 38km remaining, alerting a nervous peloton to further breaches caused by crosswinds on the open plains.