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Groenewegen poised to win unofficial ‘King of Sprints’ title

The Dutch sprinter took another win Saturday to give him more victories than anyone else in the WorldTour — for now

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Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) looks to be the peloton’s unofficial king of speed in 2019.

The 26-year-old Dutch star out-kicked Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in Saturday’s Tacx Pro Classic/Ronde van Zeeland (1.1) to cap another successful season for the sprinter.

“We were very motivated to win here and we showed that,” he said Saturday. “When I’m in shape and up to speed, it’s hard to beat me.”

The victory marks his 15th on 2019, and his 50th of his career. With the victory, Groenewegen ends his season with the most victories among the elite sprinters of the peloton. At least right now.

Coming out the final racing weekend in Europe, Groenewegen concludes his 2019 campaign with more victories than anyone among the WorldTour, giving him the unofficial title as the fastest man in the peloton. Among the pure sprinters, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) won 13 times, and Viviani and Pascal Ackerman (Bora-Hansgrohe) won 11 times each. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) won 10 times in what was a breakout season for him as well, capped by winning three stages at the Tour de France.

Only Ackerman among the top sprinters is racing next week’s WorldTour final event at the Gree-Tour of Guangxi, a six-stage race that could see as many as five sprint finals. On paper, Ackerman could win every sprint, and leap-frog ahead in the 2019 season count with more wins than Groenewegen.

Groenewegen’s number of 15 victories — especially when compared to season-long hauls from the likes of Mark Cavendish or André Greipel who could win more than 20 times in a season a decade ago — reveals an ever more competitive sprinter field as well as fewer opportunities for the pure sprinters in the grand tours.

“I can look back on a good season and I am happy that I was able to finish this season with a victory,” Groenewegen said. “The fact that I am the rider with the most UCI victories this season is nice, even if they are just statistics.”

The victory Saturday also marked the 51st win for Jumbo-Visma on the 2019 season. Primoz Roglic won 13 times across the season, tying him with Bennett on the season, and one more than the 12 wins by Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). Roglic rode to seventh in Saturday’s Giro di Lombardia to close out his breakout 2019 season, and will end the season ranked No. 1 in the UCI world ranking.

“This was my most successful season to date,” Roglic said. “Last week, I also showed that I am able to compete for the win in one-day races. But above all I am most happy with the fact that I am finishing the season as number one in the world.”