Team Emirates Martin wins 6th sixth stage as Van Avermaet keeps yellow

Toms Skujins

"There's no reason I can't look at it [the Mûr de Bretagne], even though I'm contending for GC [the general classification]", Martin said earlier this week.

Alejandro Valverde finished third for Movistar ahead of Quick-Step Floors' Julian Alaphilippe, who missed out on bonus seconds.

Froome's teammate Geraint Thomas moved into second place overall at three seconds behind Van Avermaet after snatching two additional bonus in an intermediate bonus sprint.

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Van Avermaet accelerated for the stage win 300 meters before the finish line, but failed to maintain his pace throughout the sprint and ended up in seventh.

Martin came home second the last time a Tour stage ended in Mur de Bretagne and he admitted he had been obsessed about winning here this time on a punchy climb that suited his abilities.

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An escape group featuring Sylvain Chavanel embarked on a long-range bid with Van Avermaet's BMC doing most of the work at the head of the chasing peloton, and Bora joining the chase late.

Title hopefuls Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) were the big losers of the day.

Froome seemed unconcerned after the finish of stage six, which lived up to its billing as a key week-one marker for the overall hopes.

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

Bardet was left 1:45 back in 23rd overall after a spoke on his bike broke.

"Then I had to chase and that effort was fatal. It's never good to lose time", said Bardet, who has finished in he top three the past two Tours. "There are a lot of twists on the Tour and this time luck was not on our side".

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Having not long joining Team Emirates from Quick Step, Martin dedicated the win to his new team.

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.

The sixth stage runs from Brest to Mur-de-Bretagne Guerledan, and also features significant elevation change.

Froome is trying to join Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, and Miguel Indurain as the only riders to win the Tour five times.

This was the first summit finish of this Tour.

Cycling - Tour de France - The 231-km Stage 7 from Fougeres to Chartres - July 13, 2018 - LottoNL-Jumbo rider Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands sprints to stage victory.

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