Martin claims vic­tory

Team UAE Emi­rates rider wins sixth stage

The Herald (South Africa) - - Sport - Julien Pre­tot

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 2km climb at an av­er­age gra­di­ent of 6.9% to re­tain the over­all leader’s yel­low jersey.

Aus­tralian Richie Porte, Ital­ian Vin­cenzo Nibali and Britain’s Geraint Thomas all crossed the line three sec­onds off the pace af­ter the 181km ride from Brest, with de­fend­ing cham­pion Chris Froome 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 team­mate due to a prob­lem just be­fore the last climb.

“A spoke broke and I had to swap bikes with Tony [Gal­lopin]. Then I had to chase and that ef­fort was fa­tal,” AG2R-La Mon­di­ale rider Bardet said.

“It’s never good to lose time. There are a lot of twists on the Tour and this time luck was not on our side.”

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 5km to go and ended the day 53 sec­onds be­hind the win­ner.

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

“I thought about it [his sec­ond place in 2015] all day. It was good to fin­ish sec­ond back then but this time I was com­ing for vic­tory,” Martin said.

“It was dif­fi­cult be­cause there was a head­wind, so go­ing solo was risky.”

The first 179km of the stage were dull with none of the favourites dar­ing to make a move, even when the pelo­ton went up the fi­nal hill a first time with 16km to go.

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

It was good to fin­ish sec­ond [ in 2015] but this time I was com­ing for vic­tory Dan Martin

Pic­ture: BENOIT TESSIER/REUTERS

UP­HILL BAT­TLE: UAE Team Emi­rates rider Daniel Martin of Ire­land

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