Dan Martin wins Tour de France stage after attacking window of opportunity

Mark Cavendish

Ireland's Daniel Martin celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France.

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

"My first thoughts are that I hope my wife hasn't gone into labour", smiled Martin as he caught his breath.

Dumoulin suffered a puncture inside the last 6km and then copped a 20-second time penalty for taking a tow back to the front.

It was in 2011 when the Tour first finished a stage on the steep, two-kilometre climb to Mur-de-Bretagne.

"The race went so hard on the first part of the climb, I saw everyone was on the limit and there were no teammates left, so why not have a try? I don't know what happened - maybe adrenaline - but I wasn't going to let anyone beat me". "It was good to finish second back then but this time I was coming for victory", Martin said.

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Meanwhile, Team Sky's Geraint Thomas picked up 2 bonus seconds to move into second place overall by the end of the 181-kilometrre stage from Brest- although his team mate and defending champion, Chris Froome, lost 8 seconds.

Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d'Italia champion, suffered a puncture with five kilometres to go and ended the day 53 seconds behind the victor.

Movistar veteran Alejandro Valverde was fourth on Wednesday's stage and came third here in another good ride for the 39-year-old, who is now eighth overall at 51sec. "I was second there before and I feel like I should have won that day perhaps".

Martin was one of several team leaders along with former Tour victor Vincenzo Nibali and two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana who were caught off-guard by an attack by Quick-Step 100 kilometers into the stage during a straightaway that was exposed to crosswinds.

A breakaway group of five riders - Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Damien Gaudin and Fabien Grellier (both Direct Energie) - hit the front from the off and built a gap of nearly seven minutes before it stabalised.

Friday's flat 231-kilometre leg from Fougeres to Chartes is the longest stage of this Tour.

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