Ireland’s Dan Martin won an uphill finish to claim Stage 6 of the Tour de France yesterday, while Greg Van Avermaet kept the overall lead for a third consecutive day.
Defending champion Chris Froome crossed eight seconds after Martin in 18th. That left the Sky leader 1 minute, 2 seconds off Van Avermaet’s overall lead.
Martin broke away on the straight two-kilometre ascent of the Mur de Bretagne, winning the 181-kilometre (112-mile) leg that started in the western port city of Brest in over four hours.
“I saw the moment. I had really good legs and when I went my legs kept coming and coming,” Martin said. “I knew if I could get a gap it would be difficult to close from behind.”
Pierre Latour crossed second followed by Alejandro Valverde in third.
Van Avermaet, a support rider for title hopeful Richie Porte, has held the yellow jersey since BMC won the team time trial on Stage 3.
It was Martin’s (UAE Emirates) second Tour stage win after getting his first in 2013.
Title hopefuls Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) were the big losers of the day.
Dumoulin, the time trial world champion and 2017 Giro d’Italia winner, was slowed by a tyre puncture at the foot of the final ascent and lost 53 seconds. He had entered the stage in 7th place overall and finished it 15th and one second behind Froome.
Bardet was left 1:45 back in 23rd overall after a spoke on his bike broke.
“Then I had to chase and that effort was fatal. It’s never good to lose time,” said Bardet, who has finished on the podium in the past two Tours. “There are a lot of twists on the Tour and this time luck was not on our side.”
Riders twice went up the Mur de Bretagne, or “Wall of Brittany,” which the local cycling-crazed Bretons affectionately refer to as their very own version, albeit much smaller, famous Alpe d’Huez. While that Alp ascent awaiting on Stage 12 rises to 1,850 metres, the Mur de Bretagne tops out at 293 metres.
This was the first summit finish of this Tour. After the relatively flat first nine days, the race will head south and into the Alps and then the Pyrenees Mountains.
Today’s flat 231-kilometre leg from Fougeres to Chartes is the longest stage of this Tour.