Michael Matthews won the stage to Romans-sur-Isère. Chris Froome kept the lead in the classification. “I felt weak,” Benet said after he abandoned. “I am empty. I was in pain in places I didn’t even know could hurt. It should have been an easy day to survive for me, but that was not the case. I felt like I sprinted all the way, but in reality, I almost went backwards.
“It is devastating to leave the Tour. It is one of the worst feelings for a bike racer. Thanks again for all support the last weeks.”
“He is very disappointed in the way things went today,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven. “He did not feel well for a few days now. Yesterday afternoon he became sick. This morning the fever was gone and we decided to start. If you have an easy day, it is possible to survive. But today was a very tough day.
“Right from the start, he was in trouble and after that he dropped from the group with Kittel and Groenewegen. He did not want to stop. He is a fighter and wants to continue, but at a certain point you are just completely empty.”
Dylan Groenewegen hoped before the start that a bunch sprint would be the outcome of today’s stage. But on the first climb, he was dropped with a big group of riders.
“Then you have to wait to see if you are able to get back. Sunweb pulled hard on the front and we were not able to get back in the bunch. We knew that the first climb would maybe cause some trouble. We did our best to come back in the bunch, but did not succeed.
“Maybe this is a missed opportunity. On the other hand, we climbed that mountain pass full-gas. That was not enough.”
Team LottoNL-Jumbo gathered good results in the first two weeks. Verhoeven also sees chances for his team in the final week of the Tour de France.
“We have to ready for the two stages where there are changes with Dylan. Maybe Primoz can surprise in the coming mountain stages. There are five days to go, five opportunities.”