Tour de France Stage 6

Tour de France Stage 6

Irish eyes are smiling after an astounding (but not unexpected) attack from Dan Martin, 1.5km from the line, came off. He won the stage – arguably the hardest of the Tour yet in 2018 – to Mur de Bretagne by a few meters from the hard-charging, and wonderfully named Pierre Latour, with Alejandro Valverde leading the shattered bunch in a further two seconds back. Both Chris Froome and Rigoberto Uran fell on the wrong side of time gaps in the final kilometre, and lost more precious seconds, but the day’s biggest loser was Tom Dumoulin, who flatted 5km out, and never got back in to lose nearly a minute.

The early break was allowed some slack today – nearly 7 minutes at one point – before a sidewind section 60 km from the finish saw echelons form, and a number of GC hopefuls were caught on the wrong side of the splits. Quickstep were more than happy to play this game, burying themselves to force a long chase, which will have hurt some legs for the finale, a hard 2km, 7% punch. It was Martin who went first, after Sky and Dimension Data had led the reduced field into the climb, and nobody had an answer to the Irishman’s short-effort power. He won handily, with Sagan in the top ten to retain Green on his 90th day wearing the sprinter’s jersey; this beat Erik Zabel’s 89 days, and he is now officially the Shrekkiest man in Tour history. He will get another two chances, on Friday and Saturday’s flat stages to add to his lead, before the peloton hits the Roubaix’s cobbles for Sunday’s big showdown. Hold on, he doesn’t mind them, either…