Former Sky man Porte said this week: "Sunday's going to be the roof shaker, it's all about Sunday now". He won Paris-Roubaix in 2015, the famous one-day cobbled classic known as the "Hell of the North", and this stage followed a similar route.
"It was a hectic (finish), but that's every day in the Tour", Groenewegen said. I'm so happy to get this victory now for him.
Porte went down after just 10km, and had to abandon the Tour for the second year in a row after suffering a shoulder injury.
There was more misfortune for BMC as Tejay van Garderen, who should assume the team leadership in the mountains, also crashed and could not chase back on, falling from third to 30th overall.
Mechanical problems and falls have been the chief dividers in the struggle for the yellow jersey so far, and Sunday's stage could be marked by a continuation of the safety-first mentality.
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"It's really hard to describe", Degenkolb said after crossing the line.
Degenkolb took the win by holding off Van Avermaet and Quick-Step Floors' Yves Lampaert in a sprint to the line after they had broken off the front of the peloton with 20km to go.
Degenkolb's victory came at the end of a crash strewn stage, which lived up to expectations of being a key one for general classification contenders.
BMC Racing Team rider Richie Porte (C) receives medical assistance after crashing with Lotto Soudal team rider Jens Keukeleire (L) of Belgium.
After tomorrow's rest day, racing resumes in the Alps on Tuesday with Stage 10 from Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. "But I see the effort these guys put in, the months of preparation and wonder if maybe eliminating some of them just through bad luck is right".
France's Romain Bardet, who was third overall previous year, suffered three punctures but managed to limit the damage, only losing seven seconds to Froome and the four-time champion's Sky team mate Geraint Thomas.