Monday, 18 February, 2019

Tour de France: Martin wins stage as Thomas climbs to second overall

Mark Cavendish Mark Cavendish looks backwards from the rear of the peloton Credit Getty Images
Cary Erickson | 13 July, 2018, 13:25

Thirteenth in the stage one sprint, 23rd in the stage two sprint, second in the team time trial on stage three, 30th in the stage four sprint, and now 12th and ninth on the two lumpiest days yet.

This means that after six stages Dumoulin is now 1 minute 23 seconds behind current race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).

Martin held off a late push from AG2R La Mondiale's Pierre Latour to cross the line alone, just ahead of the pack as the general classification hopefuls scrapped for seconds.

Britain's Adam Yates finished sixth on the day in the pack three seconds back, and has vaulted above Froome in the overall standings.

Meanwhile, Geraint Thomas of Team Sky inched closer to the race leader's yellow jersey as the race turned east to begin a series of long flat stages across northern France.

Van Avermaet is the first former Olympic road race champion to wear the yellow jersey after winning gold since 1903 and has set a target to retain the jersey until the peloton reaches Roubaix on stage nine, which will be the next stage that could provide a general classification shake up.

The last swept up on the first climb to the finish line.

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Dumoulin and his Sunweb team compounded the mechanical mishap by getting a 20-second penalty when Dumoulin stayed too close to the team vehicle while trying to catch the pack, thereby benefiting from its draft that pulled him along.

"I thought about it (his second place in 2015) all day". I had really good legs and when I went my legs kept coming and coming, " Martin said.

Dumoulin, the time trial world champion and 2017 Giro d'Italia victor, was slowed by a tire puncture at the foot of the final ascent and lost 53 seconds.

Martin becomes just the third Irish rider to win two or more stages on the Tour alongside Ireland's cycling royalty Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.

The pace of the peleton quickened ahead of the category three climb to Mur de Bretagne, with the gap to the front shortening to under a minute with 20km to go.

On that occasion Australian Cadel Evans laid down a marker on his rivals as he claimed the stage on his way to the overall win in Paris.

The last time this route was used was in 2004 and won by Australia's Stuart O'Grady from a breakaway.