Dylan Groenewegen claims Stage 7 of Tour de France

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Sagan waited until after the stage's final punchy climb before sprinting to the finish.

Dumoulin said his bike broke when he knocked into Bardet near the foot of the second of two two-kilometre ascents up the Mur de Bretagne to the finish line.

Groenewegen burst around Gaviria, however, to take his first stage win of this year's race and second of his career at the Tour having won on the Champs-Elysees in 2017.

Dan Martin celebrates as he crosses the line to take yesterday's sixth stage of the Tour De France.

The pace of the peloton quickened ahead of the category 3 climb to Mur de Bretagne, with the gap to the front shortening to under a minute with 20km to go.

"I was following quite good wheels but it was choppy".

"It was an early break but it was my only opportunity for the stage win as I'd never have got it in a sprint", explained Martin.

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Belgian Greg van Avermaet hung on for dear life on the 2-km climb at an average gradient of 6.9 percent to retain the overall leader's yellow jersey.

All the top contenders for the overall victory enjoyed a comfortable day as the race heads towards a much-feared ninth stage featuring cobbled sectors on Sunday just before the first rest day. "I had no legs to beat the first two guys". The four-time Tour victor, aiming for a fourth successive Grand Tour victory, went straight on at a bend entering the eighth cobbled sector but recovered to finish in the main group. Van Avermaet's teammate and Tacoma native Tejay van Garderen is in third place, 5 seconds behind the leader.

Chris Froome was eight seconds back but Tom Dumoulin lost almost a minute.

Lighter, more agile riders like Van Avermaet, Alejandro Valverde, Julian Alaphilippe and Gilbert are expected to shine.

The Dutchman, who rides for LottoNL-Jumbo, moved before his rivals as the 231-kilometer (143-mile) stage from Fougeres to Chartres ended in a bunch sprint.

Asked if it would be a battle all the way to Paris with Fernando Gaviria for the green jersey prize, Sagan said: "I hope not!" It's a true transitional stage, mostly aimed at getting the peloton from point A to point B. Starting in Fougères, the terrain is generally flat to rolling, with a long downhill finish in Chartres that should give the sprinters' teams enough time to reel in the day's long breakaway. "I knew if I could get a gap it would be hard to close from behind".

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