Dutch national champion Dylan Groenewegen bounced back from Tuesday's disappointing crash to finish third on stage 5 of Paris-Nice. While the LottoNL-Jumbo rider was chasing the win, he explained he is also using the sprints to prepare for July's Tour de France.
"In this field of competitors, it was good that I placed third and we kept the sprint train on the track. We have to improve a little bit and then we can start working towards the Tour," said the 23-year-old who win 11 races last year.
Groenewegen started his season with four top-ten results at the Dubai Tour, finishing second overall, but has struggled for consistency since. On the fast finish into Bourg-de-Péage, the Dutchman explained he was forced to open up his sprint early, but ultimately Andre Greipel proved to be the fastest man on the day.
"It was pretty hectic. I had no choice and had to go early. When Greipel passed me, I noticed immediately that he was stronger today," he said. "If you lose because someone is stronger, you have to deal with it. We can be satisfied with a third place in this field.
"We always try to wait longer before we go with the sprint train. That went well today. Last year, during the Tour, we didn't dare to wait too long. When you see how we do that now, we can be satisfied."
On his Tour de France debut last year, Groenewegen had three top-ten results in the first week of the race. He then finished off his season with four wins, including his first at WorldTour level in the Eneco Tour.
Sports Director Frans Maassen added that he was pleased by Groenewegen's performance after Tuesday's mistake and believes his young buck will learn from his Paris-Nice experiences.
"It was a lot better than Tuesday. We had the good train pulling for Dylan. That was successful, but there were two stronger riders," he said. "It shows class that he can sprint again after his crash two days ago. I saw grinta today. He had to because this was our last chance in Paris-Nice for a sprint win. It failed, but we must be satisfied with this result."
With the final three days of the race for the GC men, LottoNL-Jumbo turns its attention to Steven Kruijswijk's bid for the overall and securing the best result possible.