Ireland’s Dan Martin claimed his second career Tour de France stage win with victory atop the Mur-de-Bretagne in Thursday’s sixth stage of the 2018 edition.
The UAE Team Emirates man launched a brutal attack in an uphill finish as several top riders lost time at the end of the 181km stage from Brest, which finished with two separate climbs of the ‘Wall of Brittany’.
Having attacked with 1.2km remaining, the Birmingham-born rider never looked back, beating France’s Pierre Latour by one second and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde by three, leaving the other general classification hopefuls to scrap for time.
Richie Porte, Vincenzo Nibali and Geraint Thomas all crossed the line three seconds off the pace, with Thomas’ Team Sky team-mate and defending champion Chris Froome five seconds further back.
Meanwhile, Belgian Greg van Avermaet hung on for dear life on the 2km climb to retain the overall leader’s yellow jersey. Thomas moved up to second in the general classification, three seconds behind after picking up two seconds in the bonus sprint.
But there were losses further back, with AG2R La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet hit by problems on the short 2km climb and Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin also distanced after suffering a mechanical problem with 6km left.
Earlier in the day, a group of five riders broke free early and when the Quick-Step team of stage contender Julian Alaphilippe suddenly accelerated on a plain, the peloton split into three with 100km remaining.
Nairo Quintana, already 2 minutes 10 seconds down, and former Team Sky man Mikel Landa, were caught in the second of three groups and had to work long and hard to get back in the lead pack.
Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang, also caught in the split, failed to close the gap back to the lead group. He dropped to 10th overall – 53 seconds in arrears.
But it was on the final climb that the action took flight. England’s Adam Yates and the Mitchelton-Scott team were shaping up for an attack, only for BMC’s Richie Porte to beat them to it.
But as the Australian started to put his foot down, Martin flew past everyone and swiftly opened up a gap with a full 500m to climb.
Latour’s counter-attack was strong, but though the Frenchman closed, he could not bridge over.
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.
Friday’s flat 231km leg from Fougeres to Chartes is the longest stage of this edition of the Tour.
Stage six result:
1 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 04:13:43
2 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale +1s
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team +3s
4 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors Same time
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe “
6 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott “
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo “
8 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe “
9 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky “
10 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo “
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 22:35:46
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky +3s
3 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team +5s
4 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors +6s
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors +12s
6 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors +18s
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale +45s
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team +51s
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe +52s
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team +53s