Tour de France: Tom Dumoulin gets 20 second time penalty for drafting

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"In the first two stages of the Tour, my legs were just not good enough to win but some people concluded that I wasn't able to win a Tour de France stage", said Groenewegen, who rides for Team LottoNL-Jumbo.

Riders twice went up the Mur de Bretagne, or "Wall of Brittany", which the local cycling-crazed Bretons affectionately refer to as their smaller version of the famous Alpe d'Huez.

The finish itself is tricky, though, with a right-hand corner tighter than the one that brought down several riders at the end of Stage 2.

Having been boxed in the last time the Tour finished on the Mur three years ago, the punchy climber made no mistake this time when jumping off the front of the peloton with 1,200m to go and opening a gap on the highest point of the climb.

"I talked to everyone", Sagan said when asked how he passed the time after finishing third in the mass sprint which, with its uphill finish, suited him. "I'll try my best to win but you saw all that today". After the relatively flat first nine days, the race will head south and into the Alps and then the Pyrenees Mountains. He thanked Greg Van Avermaet, the overnight leader from BMC Racing, for his early move at the final turn.

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"I have my own style", he said when asked about his similarity to the veteran Manxman with 39 stage wins under his belt.

"(Porte) can be confident after this climb", Van Avermaet said.

Groenewegen, who won the final stage on the Champs Elysees previous year, crushed the pedals with 200m to go to easily beat Colombian Fernando Gaviria as the riders hauled themselves from Fougeres to Chartres.

It was in 2011 when the Tour first finished a stage on the steep, two-kilometre climb to Mur-de-Bretagne. The French rider with the Wanty-Groupe Gobert team established an advantage of more than eight minutes _ the biggest breakaway lead in this year's Tour _ before being caught by the pack with 90 kilometres to go.

Friday's 231-kilometer seventh stage will take the cyclists from Fougeres to Chartes. While Porte headed for hospital, their likely Plan B Tejay Van Garderen - who started the day just nine seconds off yellow - got himself caught up in crashes and conceded more nearly six minutes to effectively rule himself out of contention.