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Dylan Groenewegen, from Paris to Guilin
date:2017-10-23 source: hits:

Dylan Groenewegen, from Paris to Guilin

Former Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen of LottoNL-Jumbo won the hardest stage of the inaugural Gree UCI WorldTour Tour of Guangxi after the prestigious conclusive stage of the Tour de France on the Champs - Elysées in Paris. He outsprinted triple stage winner Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) in Guilin while Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) retained the lead after a fierce battle against the other GC contenders in the hills.

116 riders started stage 5 of the Gree UCI WorldTour Tour of Guangxi in Liuzhou. It was a very intense start with lots of unsuccessful attacks. 49km were covered during the first hour in which race leader Tim Wellens defended his red jersey by contesting the first intermediate sprint and taking two seconds bonus by coming second to Danny van Poppel (Team Sky) at km 29. Bernhard Eisel and Mekseb Debesay, both from Dimension Data, made a breakaway but a trio manage to stay clear off the peloton after 60km of racing: Daniel Oss (BMC), William Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) and Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural).

At the halfway point, they got their maximum lead of five minutes. Oss won the first three KOM prices to move into the green jersey. At the surprise of many in the peloton, the whole Movistar team riding for Jesus Herrada, eleventh overall, set a very fast tempo as three categorized climbs were looming in the last 60km. They brought the time difference down to one minute. Nicolas Roche (BMC), Wout Poels (Sky), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Herrada and Wellens bridged the gap to Oss, the sole remaining of the leading trio. Poels attacked strongly but that front group wasn’t cooperating very well. It became a 13-man leading group, then thirty and eventually seventy riders formed a peloton again.

From the sprinters who contested the first three stages, Max Walscheid (Sunweb) was missing at the front but the others were up there for a royal sprint in Guilin. This time, Dylan Groenewegen timed it perfectly in the head wind and didn’t let Fernando Gaviria win a fourth stage. Their last encounter of the year is set to fire up the sixth and last stage of the Gree UCI WorldTour Tour of Guangxi in the 168.1km long Guilin Circuit Race.

Post race quotes

Stage winner Dylan Groenewegen: “Fernando Gaviria is really strong in the sprints. He won three times and today it was my turn. The race was hard. In the last climb, the whole Movistar team was attacking. The speed was a little bit too high for me. But my whole team waited for me and brought me back on the flat roads in the front group of thirty riders. Therefore we could go for the sprint and we did it. It’s a good one I won today because it was a hard one before the bunch sprint. There was a head wind to finish so I wanted to launch my sprint a bit later than normal. With one hundred meters to go, I accelerated and it was enough. It feels great concluding a long season with a victory in China.”

Race leader Tim Wellens: “The start of today’s stage was very hard. It was not easy for the team but the team did a perfect work. In the mountains, Movistar made a surprise attack. They went full gas in the mountains. Then Wout Poels tried to attack. We formed a little group [of six] with all the favourites. But the cooperation wasn’t super, so the peloton came across to us and it was a sprint at the end. I never worried about my jersey. Our team always had things under control. My legs felt ok enough when Poels attacked. Physically, I don’t feel like we are at the end of October. I’m impressed by the number of people on the road sides but I’m also impressed by the number of volunteers who keep the roads safe for us watching the peloton back. Riders’ safety here is very good.”

Most active rider and King of the Mountain Daniel Oss: “It was a good day with a full gas start. We covered almost 50km in the first hour. Later on, when the roads were rolling, we tried to go away. I calculated that I could get the KOM from a breakaway. I also wanted to enjoy this race the best I could. I also had in mind that it could be good for Nicolas Roche if I was up there to help him in the fight for GC. Unfortunately, the last climb was a bit too far from the finish for this move to work out well. I like to have so many spectators on the road sides. They were very enthusiastic. It’s nice to see people happy when we’re racing.”

Sporting stakes for stage 6

With now six seconds lead over Bauke Mollema instead of four as he took two seconds bonus in the first intermediate sprint on stage 5, Tim Wellens looks very likely to become the first ever winner of the Gree UCI WorldTour Tour of Guangxi. Stage 6 consists in a 168.1km long loop taking the riders back to their starting point at Guilin Central Square after going through a few hills in the south of the city but a bunch gallop is highly likely with a possible duel between Dylan Groenewegen, fresh from his win on stage 5, and Fernando Gaviria who has an opportunity to equal Marcel Kittel’s number of fourteen victories on top of the tally of the pro cyclists this year.

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