Less than a week ago, Dylan Groenewegen sat in the middle of a road, his body language oozing disappointment as he was attended by the Tour de France doctor.
One of the fastest sprinters in the world, the Dutchman was expected to win the opening stage and seize the yellow jersey. Instead, he was caught in a crash and forced to watch Mike Teunissen claim the honor.
To add to his torment, Teunissen and Groenewegen are roommates on the Tour, meaning he had to spend the night with the yellow jersey in his room.
Groenewegen took a few days to recover, but on Friday finally put his poor start to bed with the tightest of wins in the longest stage.
He edged Australian rival Caleb Ewan and former world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia to claim his fourth career stage win of the Tour.
After a final technical hairpin bend, the 230km stage featured a 1.6km path to the finish that gave pure sprinters a perfect opportunity to shine.
It was a tight battle between Groenewegen and Ewan, with the former averaging 74.1kph to win by just a few centimeters.
Before that intense finale, riders used Stage 7 to recover from the brutal ride on Thursday and it made for painfully boring viewing.
There was no significant movement in the overall standings. Tour rookie Giulio Ciccone kept the yellow jersey with a six-second lead over Julian Alaphilippe.
Among the favorites, Geraint Thomas remained the best-placed rider, just 49 seconds off the pace.
On the Tour’s longest day, some riders were caught napping. Nicolas Roche fell onto his machine on a long section of flat road, while Teunissen and American Tejay van Garderen hit the tarmac soon after the start, close to a road divider.
Van Garderen was attended by three of his teammates and eventually got back on his bike to finish with a bloodied face and ripped jersey, but he broke a bone in his left hand and his team later announced his withdrawal.
The top US rider in the race, van Garderen was 36th overall.
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