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Everyone knew if they could gap the Dutch speedster that their chances would greatly increase, so Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma put numbers on the front all day.
Groenewegen lost contact late in the stage, along with other fast finishers such as Sebastian Molano and Phil Bauhaus.
Despite a desperate chase led by BikeExchange-Jayco, the elastic was snapped and it never bounced back.
“Today was our best shot at winning a stage,” said Luke Durbridge. “Dylan is the fastest guy here, but it’s not a lack of trying, and hopefully we can nail it one of these days.”
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When Groenewegen was gapped, the team put all of its legs on a chase group in a desperate bid to tow him back to the front group.
The closer the chasing group got, however, the harder the front group started to dig.
“I think if we were 10 seconds closer at the top, we could see we almost brought it back,” said BikeExchange’s Alex Edmondson. “You got to be in it to win, and we’re not going to go down without trying. I think we still had 15 seconds with 3km to go, by that stage, you can tell if you’re going to make it or not.
“It’s disappointing, and the guys gave it their best try,” he said. “Tomorrow’s another day and we’ll keep trying.”
The Aussie-backed team thinks there are more chances for sprints later in the Dauphiné, but even more importantly, everyone is pushing Groenewegen through the mountains, not only later this week but next month at the Tour de France.
“We need Dylan to do these hard climbing races to get through the Tour de France,” Durbridge said. “Even if we don’t win a stage here, it will really pay off in the Tour, and that can be the icing on the cake.”
Groenewegen gives BikeExchange-Jayco that pure sprinter element the team’s been lacking the last few years.
He’s won four times this year since moving across from Jumbo-Visma in a late-season trade, and the Dutch ace is building toward what the hopes will be a return to the Tour since his last edition in 2019.