Cycling - Martin seizes opportunity as top guns lose ground

Friday, 2018-07-13 07:19:28
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UAE Team Emirates rider Daniel Martin of Ireland wins the stage - Tour de France - the 181-km Stage 6 from Brest to Mur-de-Bretagne Guerleden - July 12, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
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Ireland’s Dan Martin claimed victory on the sixth stage of the Tour de France with a brutal attack in an uphill finish as several top riders lost time on Thursday.

The Team UAE Emirates rider jumped away from the main pack inside the final kilometre and never looked back, beating France’s Pierre Latour by one second and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde by three.

Belgian Greg van Avermaet hung on for dear life on the 2-km climb at an average gradient of 6.9% to retain the overall leader’s yellow jersey.

While Australian Richie Porte, Italian Vincenzo Nibali and Britain’s Geraint Thomas all crossed the line three seconds off the pace after the 181-km ride from Brest, defending champion Chris Froome was five seconds further back.

Last year’s runner-up Rigoberto Uran was 11 seconds behind Martin but it was worse for Frenchman Romain Bardet, who ended 31 seconds off the pace after having to swap bikes with a team mate following a mechanical problem just before the last climb.

Bardet now trails Froome by 43 seconds while Team Sky will also be able to play the Geraint Thomas card as the Welshman, who won the Criterium du Dauphine last month, sits in third place overall 59 seconds ahead of the four-times Tour champion. Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d’Italia champion, suffered a puncture with five kilometres to go and ended the day 53 seconds behind the winner.

He was then handed a 20-second penalty by the race jury for staying too long in his team car’s slipstream.

Martin came home second the last time a Tour stage ended in Mur de Bretagne and he admitted he had been obsessed about winning here this time on a punchy climb that suited his abilities.

Thousands of French fans had been waiting for France’s Julian Alaphilippe to win and snatch the yellow jersey but the Fleche Wallonne champion failed to deliver, coming home a disappointing fourth.

Reuters