"The tour de France to 2018": Groenewegen won the seventh stage

Virginia Santiago
July 19, 2018

Australian Richie Porte has pulled out of the Tour de France after damaging his shoulder in a crash 10 kilometres into the ninth stage, a 156.5-km ride from Arras on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Dutch rider won his second consecutive stage on Saturday, joining world champion Peter Sagan and Tour newcomer Fernando Gaviria as two-stage winners at this edition of the world's leading cycling race.

Porte, victor of last month's Tour de Suisse, was nearly one minute behind his teammate Greg Van Avermaet in the overall standings.

While Degenkolb and Sagan may have carte blanche to race for the win, Van Avermaet may have to protect his BMC team leader Richie Porte.

"The main thing for me was to not crash", he said. Degenkolb won the Paris-Roubaix single-day classic, which covers much of the same course, in 2015.

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"Was that a Sunday in hell?" said Irishman Dan Martin, fighting on after a brutal fall left the day before left him with "lumbar trauma". You didn't need to be a rocket scientist to know that this cobbled stage was always going to be Richie's biggest challenge, but he didn't even get a smell of the Pave'.

German John Degenkolb of team Trek-Segafredo became the victor of the very dramatic ninth stage of Cycling's Tour de France in 2018.

Degenkolb, Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert formed a three-man breakaway with two sectors of cobbles to go after an earlier breakaway was reeled in.

"I think it's fantastic, I can't find the right words to express how it feels to win", said Degenkolb, who now has stage wins in all three Grand Tours.

Thomas showed his climbing prowess, finishing 20 seconds ahead of 2017 Giro d'Italia champion Tom Dumoulin and Froome.

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France's Romain Bardet, who was third overall a year ago, suffered three punctures but managed to limit the damage, only losing seven seconds to Froome and the four-time champion's Sky team mate Geraint Thomas.

Riders can then rest their backsides on Monday when the racing pauses before resuming with three stages in a row in the Alps. "When I saw these crashes I was on the brakes more often than usual because I just didn't want to end up somewhere in a hospital in France".

With the notable exception of 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali, an "artist" on the bike as his former sports director Philippe Mauduit calls him, the overall favourites may find these hard sections like a race within a race.

Former Paris-Roubaix victor Van Avermaet could be a victim of the fact this stage could prove crucial to the general classification.

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