Bold Martin snatches stage vic­tory

New Straits Times - - SPORT -

MÛR-DE-BRE­TAGNE: Ire­land’s Dan Martin capped a dar­ing, late at­tack on the steep Mur-de-Bre­tagne to snatch vic­tory on the sixth stage of the Tour de France on Thurs­day, as sev­eral yel­low jer­sey con­tenders lost pre­cious sec­onds.

Overnight leader Greg Van Aver­maet (BMC) fin­ished just three sec­onds be­hind in the main pelo­ton to re­tain the yel­low jer­sey ahead of to­day’s sev­enth stage.

Van Aver­maet leads Bri­tain’s Geraint Thomas (Sky) by three sec­onds in the over­all stand­ings, with Amer­i­can Te­jay van Garderen (BMC) and France’s Ju­lian Alaphilippe (Quick Step) at five and six sec­onds re­spec­tively.

In a fran­tic fi­nale that saw Martin of the UAE Emi­rates Team break free of the pack 1km from the line to fin­ish ahead of AG2R’s Pierre La­tour, de­fend­ing cham­pion Chris Froome of Team Sky lost eight sec­onds to key ri­vals. Froome was not alone. AG2R’s Ro­main Bardet cracked in the heat of the fi­nal as­cent and lost 31secs, while fel­low con­tender Tom Du­moulin (Sun­web), the 2017 Giro d’Italia cham­pion, lost nearly a minute af­ter suf­fer­ing a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem.

“It was sheer bad luck,” said Du­moulin. “From then on, it was just dam­age lim­i­ta­tion.”

Martin ded­i­cated his win to his new team, who he joined from Quick Step af­ter over­tures from Sky and BMC in the close sea­son.

“I came to this team to be the leader and the pres­sure at the be­gin­ning, of be­ing the leader is why I didn’t do so well in spring,” said the UAE cap­tain Martin.

“But there’s a great feel­ing in the bus now, laugh­ing and jok­ing and this win is for them, they re­ally looked af­ter me.

“It was an early break but it was my only op­por­tu­nity for the stage win as I’d never have got it in a sprint,” ex­plained Martin.

“When you get an op­por­tu­nity, if you think about it, it’s gone. You just go.

“So I set off, kept my head down, kept go­ing and my legs felt good.”

Yel­low jer­sey wearer Van Aver­maet de­scribed the cli­max as “an awe­some fin­ish.”

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