A long-awaited victory in the Tour de France means a lot. For Dylan Groenewegen, the stage three win was an emotional moment of redemption after triggering Fabio Jakobsen’s crash at the 2020 Tour de Pologne and a nine-month suspension from the UCI.
The Dutchman’s deeply personal joy was palpable as he wiped away tears after hugging his father across the finish line, but the Sønderborgit sprint win also resonated with his new Team BikeExchange-Jayco. It was a moment of relief, satisfaction and celebration for the Australian team, who are struggling to avoid relegation from the WorldTour in 2023 and are still searching for a reputable title sponsor.
The team celebrations were almost as emotional as Groenewegen’s, with one of the cars stopping in the middle of the road after deviating from the finish line to allow staff to hug team owner Gerry Ryan, manager Brent Copeland and other hard-working staff. The excited screams rang out in the target area.
“It was a long way [back]’ said Groenewegen, referring not only to his comeback from a crash in the peloton with 10km to go but also his own return to success after the dramatic crash at the 2020 Tour of Pologne.
“I want to thank my team, family and friends for bringing me back to the Tour in good shape. Not physically, but mentally, of course, it was a tough time. After everything that happened…”
Groenewegen last won a stage in the Tour de France in 2019. His team BikeExchange-Jayco also last won a stage in 2019. That was also the last time Ryan traveled to see the group he has supported for more than a decade on duty in the Tour de France, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing with it severe travel restrictions for those in Australia .
The businessman came close to ceasing funding the team on several occasions, but his love of the sport and of Australian cycling meant he could not leave without vital financial backing.
“To be here and to see Dylan win and see the whole team celebrating is special,” said Ryan cycling news after hugging sporting director Matt White and Groenewegen’s father.
“What a fantastic performance. They knew they weren’t far off on Saturday and just went back to the plan. Racing is about planning, persistence and having the right people and the right team. I’m very happy that it’s a great organization.
“It’s all about resilience and our resilience paid off and we won. I’m sure there will be more during the tour.”
Groenewegen finished a frustrating eighth in Saturday’s stage two sprint at Nyborg. He and the team wanted to make amends on Sunday and celebrated their success together.
Leadout man Luka Mezgec revealed how Groenewegen and the team turned losses and failures in Saturday’s sprint into success and celebrations on Sunday.
“Dylan knew he was me and[Michael]Matthews should have followed him into the final on Saturday, so today he was in full swing,” explained Mezgec.[Michael}Matthewsinthefinalandsohewasfullontoday”Mezgecexplained[Michael}Matthewsinthefinalandsohewasfullontoday”Mezgecexplained
“That’s one of his strengths because once he messes it up you really get that fire in him the next day. I’ve seen him get beaten this year but then he really gets up the next day and he’s twice as strong.
“There was a lot of pressure going into this race for us because we don’t race for the GC so we have to put everything on the stages. We also know that there aren’t that many sprint stages.
As a sprint team, you want to set the tone high at the start of the tour. We know that if we manage one of the first stages, it will definitely get easier over the next three weeks.”