Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
A lot happened to the 29-year-old Dutch star since then, including a departure from Jumbo-Visma and the horrific crash involving Fabio Jakobsen during the 2020 Tour de Pologne that saw him banned, publicly criticized, and even receive death threats.
A new beginning at BikeExchange-Jayco this season seems to have done him well, and he dashed to emotional victory Sunday against Wout van Aert and Jasper Philipsen.
“It means a lot to be back at the Tour, and it means a lot that my team gave me this chance,” Groenewegen said. “This means a lot to me after all that happened.”
- Groenewegen dashes to sprint victory
- Pressure on Groenewegen to deliver during Tour de France
- Fresh start at BikeExchange-Jayco
Groenewegen was fastest to the line, winning a spectacular bike throw to win by centimeters. It was so close, Van Aert even asked him after flying across the line, “Are you sure?”
Groenewegen’s victory comes a day after Jakobsen celebrated his return to the Tour with an even more emotional victory.
The pair understandably remain a bit distanced from each other, and Groenewegen said he suffered in the wake of the crash from bouts of depression, feelings of guilt, and even received death threats.
“Physically it was not a struggle to come back, but mentally it was a difficult period of course,” he said. “After everything that’s happened, this is for my wife and son. It means a lot to me.
“I want to thank my team, my family, my friends. So many people helped me to come back to the Tour. Yesterday I was a little mad at myself, but the team really pulled me up and encouraged me all day.”
Green, Green, Green, GREENEDGE! 🙌
— Team BikeExchange-Jayco (@GreenEDGEteam) July 3, 2022
Groenewegen was caught in the pile-up with just under 10km to go, but BikeExchange-Jayco brought him back to the front.
“The team got me back in position and we kept calm. At the end I was on the right side, I was brought into the left corner in good position. I had some problems, but I found some space,” he said. “I still can’t believe it.”
Groenewegen collapsed into tears, and even managed to find his father, who will be following along the entire Tour. The pair embraced in mutual tears.
Finding space and sprinting to redemption
Groenewegen came from a few wheels back, and carried a huge acceleration into an opening in the middle of the bunch to streak past the unbelieving Van Aert.
“I came with a lot more speed, but it was close. Wout asked me, ‘Are you sure?'” he said. “In the 2019 Tour we always joked that you just have to claim victory if you win with one centimeter difference even if you do not know for sure. Winning early takes the pressure off a bit.”
The win makes it a three out of three for riders from Benelux in the Danish stages as a Dutchman took over from Belgians Yves Lampaert and Van Aert. It’s a feat that emulates Jan Raas and Walter Planckaert who captured the first three stages in 1978.
The win was good for his fifth career Tour win, and his first since 2019.
“Every victory in the Tour is something special,” he said. “Winning on the Champs-Élysées was special and the next ones were nice. This one also has a story.”