Trust, confidence and a 'complex' sprinter: How Jayco-Alula manufactured a Tour de France stage victory

Dylan Groenewegen won stage six of the Tour de France – a reward for the hard work from his entire Australian team

Dylan Groenewegen has had a turbulent few years in the sport. The Dutch rider will forever be associated with that harrowing crash in the Tour of Poland four years ago which saw him collide with Fabio Jakobsen who ended up in hospital with life-threatening injuries. There was the suspension from racing which followed, and Groenewegen has kept a relatively low profile since returning to the peloton over the last few years. The media appointments have been kept to a minimum even when the big wins have come – such as the Tour de France stage victory in 2022 – and in the interviews he does do, Groenewegen’s character always appears quiet and reserved. As his Jayco-Alula team confirmed after the Dutch rider won stage six of the 2024 Tour de France, Groenewegen is simply interested in riding his bike fast. And winning.

“Naturally, he’s a really quiet, introverted guy and he’s grown as a sprinter in our team. He came from a difficult year with the suspension and that limited racing but he delivered in his first Tour de France with us two years ago and he’s changed his training a little bit this year to focus on his biggest talent. That’s his pure speed,” Jayco-Alula team boss, Matt White, told Rouleur after the stage.

“Dylan is a complex character. He has a good sense of humour but can come across as stern,” Mat Hayman added, a former Paris-Roubaix winner who now works as lead sports director for Groenewegen’s team. “He wants to win and it’s all he wants to do. When you have good legs and a clean run, it works.”

The sprint itself was textbook from Groenewegen after a faultless lead out from his Jayco-Alula team. He popped off the wheel of Arnaud De Lie in the closing metres and the 31-year-old’s finishing speed was clear from watching the overhead shot of the sprint – in a few short, powerful pedal strokes, Groenewegen was going forwards while De Lie was going backwards. Jasper Philipsen came fast on the opposite side for Alpecin-Deceuninck, but the Belgian sprinter didn’t get his timing right. He lunged too soon, while Groenewegen did everything right, and he was suitably rewarded.

“Yesterday I was really disappointed because I didn’t feel good after we slept on altitude and I lost some confidence in the final and made different choices,” Groenewegen explained after the stage. “The team did really well yesterday but I didn’t follow the guys which was my fault. I also told them after the finish that my speed was still there so they needed to keep the confidence. Today we did a really good job with the team, everyone was pushing and I got the victory in the end. I feel faster in the sprint this year.”

The work that Groenewegen praises his teammates for doing comes as a direct result of the respect they have for him as a sprinter. His key lead-out man, Luke Durbridge, explained after the stage that the Dutch rider’s work ethic is a catalyst for the team’s success.

“Dylan is great. Yesterday he made a mistake and took ownership, he said it was on him. As a leader he’s fantastic, he gives 100% every time and does all the one percenters, you know he’s training hard behind the scenes and I love working with Dylan,” Durbidge said. “He’s put his life on the line in these sprints for you and you’re giving it back to him, it’s a good relationship. He’s not very vocal, he doesn’t guide the train but he’s the missile in the back. I wait for my moment to go and move up and keep him in the wheel. I keep him out of the wind, it’s a bit of a dance but it worked out today.”

It’s a well-known fact that sprinters thrive off confidence. It seems that Jayco-Alula are currently operating like a well-oiled machine – each rider believes in Groenewegen’s ability to win, and that was crucial for today’s success. The Dutch rider has found a home in the Australian team.

“Everyone in the team works hard. It’s like a family. We have opportunities in the GC, sprint and climbing stages. Everyday we have a really good plan and help each other. Everyone is working as hard as possible, I want to say thanks to my team for helping me today,” Groenewegen said.

With one Tour win to his name this year, all that remains is for Groenewegen to keep on winning, capitalising on the success of stage six. His past few years in the sport may have been full of ups and downs, but the 31-year-old seems to be back in his sprinting groove with Jayco-Alula. He believes there is plenty more to come over the next two weeks of the Tour de France.

“It’s always nice to win in the Tour, it’s the biggest race in the world. You have 21 stages and five or six chances to win in sprint stages,” Groenewegen said. “To get that victory is important to myself and to my whole team. Now we go for the second one.”

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