Chartres - Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen burst past Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria to seal a first win on this Tour de France on Friday, saying he'd refound his confidence, speed and pride at the end of a 231km seventh stage from Fougeres to Chartres.
The Lotto NL-Jumbo rider, who won the final stage to Paris last year, had by his own admission suffered a disappointing start to the 2018 Tour before his show of power to beat Gaviria into second and Peter Sagan into third.
"People had been saying I was not good enough to win a stage on this Tour, so I put my finger to my lips to tell them to shut up," said Groenewegen, explaining his gesture at the finish line.
"I had started wondering myself, thinking 'shit, am I good enough', so this win feels really good after six days waiting."
Groenewegen grew up in a cycling environment as his grandfather was a bike manufacturer and his boyhood coach was Jean-Paul van Poppel, winner of nine sprint finishes at the Tour de France.
"I was pretty disappointing in the first few stages but now I've got the power back in my legs," said the 25-year-old from Amsterdam who dislikes comparisons to Briton Mark Cavendish.
"I have my own style," he said when asked about his similarity to the veteran Manxman with 39 stage wins under his belt.
"This win was fantastic for my self confidence, I feel under less pressure now, a sprinter needs confidence.
"I'll be trying to win again tomorrow now!"
World champion road racer Sagan said he'd been happy enough to stay on Gaviria's wheel and keep ahead in the green points jersey race.
He has 234 points to the 23-year-old Gaviria's 203.
"I had a good day," said the Slovak, who has, like Gaviria, two stage wins so far.
"Third is okay, if I win what do I get except an extra point or two? I'm after the green jersey and look, I'm wearing it."
"It was a boring stage, no wind, no stress just boring, I was talking to everybody," he said.
Belgian Greg Van Avermaet retained the leader's yellow jersey ahead of Saturday's eighth stage and said he hope to go to the mountains with it next week after what he described as a relaxing day.
"It was nice to relax because over this first week we have had very little chance to do that, believe me," said the BMC man.
"If tomorrow is like that and all goes well on the cobbles on Sunday, it would be great to go into the rest day with the yellow," said Van Avermaet, who will be helping GC contender Richie Porte to keep out of trouble on the Roubaix stage.
Van Avermaet actually extended his lead in the overall standings over Geraint Thomas to six seconds when he raced ahead of the pack to win a three-second bonus sprint.
BMC captain Porte is 56sec off the lead, Adam Yates 1min 05sec, defending champion Chris Froome at 1min 06sec, with Thursday's stage winer Dan Martin at 1min 30.
With a notoriously difficult 90 degree bend with 2km to go and speeds hitting 60 km/h, tensions were high over the closing kilometres as the sprinters' teams jockeyed for position.
But the peloton slowed and hostilities began with a 'faux plat' incline to the final 150m, with Sagan's Bora, Gaviria's Quick-Step and the winner's Lotto outfit prominent into the final stretch.
The peloton set off amid good racing conditions for the longest stage on the race, with a finish line opposite the 800-year-old cathedral of Chartres, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Around 95km from Chartres the peloton split in a cross wind, trapping Irishman Martin (Team Emirates) in the second group.
He was swift to react, leading his team across the breach within a couple of kilometres.
The lone survivor of a long-range breakaway, Yoann Offredo (Wanty), was reeled in with 38km remaining, alerting a nervous peloton to further breaches caused by crosswinds on the open plains.
Results from the seventh stage of the Tour de France, a 231km ride from Fougeres to Chartres on Friday:
1. Dylan Groenewegen (NED/LNL) 231.0 km in 5hrs 43min 42sec
2. Fernando Gaviria (COL/QST) same time
3. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOR) s.t.
4. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ) s.t.
5. Christophe Laporte (FRA/COF) s.t.
6. John Degenkolb (GER/TRE) s.t.
7. Daryl Impey (RSA/MIT) s.t.
8. Andre Greipel (GER/LOT) s.t.
9. Andrea Pasqualon (ITA/WGG) s.t.
10. Mark Cavendish (GBR/DDT) s.t.
11. Rick Zabel (GER/KAT) s.t.
12. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAH) s.t.
13. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/EAU) s.t.
14. Thomas Boudat (FRA/DEN) s.t.
15. Timothy Dupont (BEL/WGG) s.t.
16. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) s.t.
17. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) s.t.
18. Nikias Arndt (GER/SUN) s.t.
19. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t.
20. Soren Kragh Andersen (DEN/SUN) s.t.
21. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) s.t.
22. Dmitriy Gruzdev (KAZ/AST) s.t.
23. Gorka Izagirre (ESP/BAH) s.t.
24. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) s.t.
25. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) s.t.
26. Daniel Oss (ITA/BOR) s.t.
27. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT) s.t.
28. Simon Clarke (AUS/EFD) s.t.
29. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) s.t.
30. Michael Hepburn (AUS/MIT) s.t.
31. Tom Dumoulin (NED/SUN) s.t.
32. Bob Jungels (LUX/QST) s.t.
33. Adam Yates (GBR/MIT) s.t.
34. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL/WGG) s.t.
35. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) s.t.
36. Matthew Hayman (AUS/MIT) s.t.
37. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) s.t.
38. Edward Theuns (BEL/SUN) s.t.
39. Pierre-Roger Latour (FRA/ALM) s.t.
40. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC) s.t.
41. Michael Schaer (SUI/BMC) s.t.
42. Guillaume Martin (FRA/WGG) s.t.
43. Daniele Bennati (ITA/MOV) s.t.
44. Jack Bauer (NZL/MIT) s.t.
45. Egan Bernal (COL/SKY) s.t.
46. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) s.t.
47. Michael Andersen (DEN/AST) s.t.
48. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/QST) s.t.
49. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) s.t.
50. Jon Izagirre (ESP/BAH) s.t.
51. Oliver Naesen (BEL/ALM) s.t.
52. Maximiliano Richeze (ARG/QST) s.t.
53. Dan Martin (IRL/EAU) s.t.
54. Primoz Roglic (SLO/LNL) s.t.
55. Rigoberto Uran (COL/EFD) s.t.
56. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) s.t.
57. Arthur Vichot (FRA/FDJ) s.t.
58. Florian Vachon (FRA/FST) s.t.
59. Julien Simon (FRA/COF) s.t.
60. Mikel Landa (ESP/MOV) s.t.
61. Maxime Bouet (FRA/FST) s.t.
62. Jasper Stuyven (BEL/TRE) s.t.
63. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) s.t.
64. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) s.t.
65. Silvan Dillier (SUI/ALM) s.t.
66. Warren Barguil (FRA/FST) s.t.
67. Patrick Bevin (NZL/BMC) s.t.
68. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EFD) s.t.
69. Kevin Ledanois (FRA/FST) s.t.
70. Marco Minnaard (NED/WGG) s.t.
71. David Gaudu (FRA/FDJ) s.t.
72. Rudy Molard (FRA/FDJ) s.t.
73. Serge Pauwels (BEL/DDT) s.t.
74. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) s.t.
75. Koen de Kort (NED/TRE) s.t.
76. Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE/FDJ) s.t.
77. Tony Martin (GER/KAT) s.t.
78. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) s.t.
79. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA/DEN) s.t.
80. Nils Politt (GER/KAT) s.t.
81. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/QST) s.t.
82. Imanol Erviti (ESP/MOV) s.t.
83. Thomas Degand (BEL/WGG) s.t.
84. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/BAH) s.t.
85. Rein Taaramae (EST/DEN) s.t.
86. Michael Gogl (AUT/TRE) s.t.
87. Simon Gerrans (AUS/BMC) s.t.
88. Tony Gallopin (FRA/ALM) s.t.
89. Laurens ten Dam (NED/SUN) s.t.
90. Kristijan Durasek (CRO/EAU) s.t.
91. Mikel Nieve (ESP/MIT) s.t.
92. Lilian Calmejane (FRA/DEN) s.t.
93. Audrey Amador (CRC/MOV) s.t.
94. Amael Moinard (FRA/FST) s.t.
95. Mathias Frank (SUI/ALM) s.t.
96. Magnus Nielsen (DEN/AST) s.t.
97. Pavel Kochetkov (RUS/KAT) s.t.
98. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/DDT) s.t.
99. Marcus Burghardt (GER/BOR) s.t.
100. Marcel Sieberg (GER/LOT) s.t.
101. Timo Roosen (NED/LNL) s.t.
102. Yves Lampaert (BEL/QST) s.t.
103. Romain Sicard (FRA/DEN) s.t.
104. Heinrich Haussler (AUS/BAH) s.t.
105. Nicolas Edet (FRA/COF) s.t.
106. Darwin Atapuma (COL/EAU) s.t.
107. Daniel Martinez (COL/EFD) s.t.
108. Romain Hardy (FRA/FST) s.t.
109. Jens Keukeleire (BEL/LOT) s.t.
110. Jacopo Guarnieri (ITA/FDJ) s.t.
111. Jay Thomson (RSA/DDT) s.t.
112. Luke Durbridge (AUS/MIT) s.t.
113. Marco Marcato (ITA/EAU) s.t.
114. Oliviero Troia (ITA/EAU) s.t.
115. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/EAU) s.t.
116. Jasper De Buyst (BEL/LOT) s.t.
117. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP/SKY) s.t.
118. Marcel Kittel (GER/KAT) s.t.
119. Ramon Sinkeldam (NED/FDJ) at 40sec
120. Gianni Moscon (ITA/SKY) 42.
121. Dion Smith (NZL/WGG) 42.
122. Niki Terpstra (NED/QST) 49.
123. Anthony Turgis (FRA/COF) 1:06.
124. Tom Slagter (NED/DDT) 1:11.
125. Yoann Offredo (FRA/WGG) 1:11.
126. Kristjan Koren (SLO/BAH) 1:11.
127. Tom Scully (NZL/EFD) 1:11.
128. Simon Geschke (GER/SUN) 1:11.
129. Marc Soler (ESP/MOV) 1:25.
130. Taylor Phinney (USA/EFD) 1:27.
131. Maciej Bodnar (POL/BOR) 1:27.
132. Mark Renshaw (AUS/DDT) 1:27.
133. Amund Grondahl Jansen (NOR/LNL) 1:36.
134. Stefan Kung (SUI/BMC) 1:36.
135. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA/DDT) 1:40.
136. Fabien Grellier (FRA/DEN) 1:40.
137. Gregor Mhlberger (AUT/BOR) 1:44.
138. Toms Skujins (LAT/TRE) 2:00.
139. Julien Bernard (FRA/TRE) 2:00.
140. Lukas Poestlberger (AUT/BOR) 2:19.
141. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/LOT) 2:21.
142. Julien Vermote (BEL/DDT) 2:21.
143. Jose Herrada Lopez (ESP/COF) 2:21.
144. Anthony Perez (FRA/COF) 2:21.
145. Laurent Pichon (FRA/FST) 2:21.
146. Tim Declercq (BEL/QST) 2:21.
147. Daniel Navarro (ESP/COF) 2:21.
148. Omar Fraile (ESP/AST) 2:21.
149. Damien Gaudin (FRA/DEN) 2:21.
150. Robert Gesink (NED/LNL) 2:21.
151. Paul Martens (GER/LNL) 2:21.
152. Elie Gesbert (FRA/FST) 2:21.
153. Antwan Tolhoek (NED/LNL) 2:21.
154. Rory Sutherland (AUS/EAU) 2:21.
155. Damien Howson (AUS/MIT) 2:21.
156. Jesper Hansen (DEN/AST) 2:21.
157. Sep Vanmarcke (BEL/EFD) 2:21.
158. Dimitri Claeys (BEL/COF) 2:21.
159. Tomasz Marczynski (POL/LOT) 2:21.
160. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/BAH) 2:21.
161. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/SKY) 2:21.
162. Luke Rowe (GBR/SKY) 2:21.
163. Ian Boswell (USA/KAT) 2:21.
164. Jerome Cousin (FRA/DEN) 2:21.
165. Wout Poels (NED/SKY) 2:21.
166. Pawel Poljanski (POL/BOR) 2:21.
167. Jelle Vanendert (BEL/LOT) 2:21.
168. Chad Haga (USA/SUN) 2:21.
169. Lawson Craddock (USA/EFD) 2:21.
170. Olivier Le Gac (FRA/FDJ) 4:16.