Stybar Takes Stage 6 of Tour de France; Martin Crashes Out
Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step) has sprinted to victory in Stage 6 of the Tour de France. The Czech jumped away from a small group during a crash-marred sprint to take the rolling, 191.5-km ride from Abbeville to Le Havre in 4:53:46. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) outsprinted Bryan Coquard (Europcar) for second at 0:02. Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) remains the maillot jaune, but the German broke his collarbone in a late-stage crash and will not start Stage 7.
The fireworks began early. Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) made an early move that was snuffed out at 3.5 km, after which Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar) attacked and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and Kenneth van Bilsen (Lotto-Soudal) joined him. The trio’s lead ballooned to eight minutes at 21 km and 12:30 at 28 km. Lotto-Soudal then began to chase on behalf of green jersey wearer Andre Greipel, and Giant-Alpecin eventually joined the pursuit.
After the intermediate sprint at 145.5 km, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) attempted to bridge up to the break. The peloton reeled him in with 37 km left. Eight km later, Teklehaimanot, who had led the field over the day’s first two climbs, led it over the third to become the first African to lead the King of the Mountains competition.
With 12 km left, and the bunch closing in, van Bilsen dropped his companions, who were reeled in two km later. The Lotto-Soudal rider stayed in the lead for another seven km. The stage was set for a sprint when Martin crashed with 800 m remaining. Other riders went down, among them Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Tejay van Garderen (Movistar). Except for Martin, no one was seriously injured.
A small group was ahead of the crash. With 500 m to go, Stybar attacked the group and held on for the win. The Etixx-Quick Step man punched the sky as he crossed the finish line.
The closing km were frenetic, and circumstance put Stybar in a position to win."The last 10 km were really crazy," the Etixx-Quick Step man said. "We had really great information from the team car. But still, to make that information real is not really easy. I saw Tony was in front with Mark Renshaw and Cav [Mark Cavendish]. I was behind Kwiato [Michal Kwiatkowski]. But in the turns on the downhill, we lost too many positions. So I thought I could make it to the front to help Cav. Then when I got to the front, and Renshaw swung off, Tony was up with Cav, so I thought 'Okay, he is safe.' I then rode to bring Cav to the front, but saw he was in a bit of difficulty. In that moment I was in the wheel of [Greg of BMC] van Avermaet, Sagan, and [Alexander of Katusha] Kristoff. I also saw that they didn't have any helpers left. So I thought if I go now, the one who will close the first gap to me will lose the sprint, so maybe no one will chase. So I gave it all or nothing as we decided with the team.”
The day was bittersweet for Etixx-Quick Step, as yellow jersey Martin crashed and withdrew from the race after X-rays revealed a broken collarbone. "I can't remember exactly what happened," Martin said. "The team put me in a really good position. On the last km no one had the energy left to continue the speed. Everything slowed down, everyone was waiting. Then suddenly I hit the rear wheel of the rider in front of me. I thought I almost could stay upright, but then I went into a rider of Giant-Alpecin and I had no balance anymore. I crashed at relatively low speed, with my full weight on the left shoulder. I felt directly that something was broken. We went to make an X-ray directly after the finish because i was thinking 'OK, maybe I am wrong. Maybe I can start tomorrow.' But now it is confirmed my clavicle is broken. This has been like a movie, an emotional roller coaster at this Tour. Now I am really sad. The team gave everything to protect the jersey today.”
In the overall, Martin leads Chris Froome (Sky) by 0:12 and van Garderen by 0:12. Stage 7 will be a rolling, 190.5-km run from Livarot to Fougeres. The stage should end in a cavalry charge. Who will win? Cavendish? Greipel? Kristoff? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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