Roche and Martin offer their verdicts on Tour’s epic first day in mountains

Posted on: July 12th, 2019
Dan Martin looking like he’d been in a bike race at the top of the climb after yesterday’s Tour de France stage 6.

Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin  had very different stages at the Tour de France yesterday on the sixth day of racing to the feared  La Planche des Belles Filles climb.

Martin (UAE Team Emirates) dug really deep all the way to the finish line in a bid to stay with the other general classification men.

Roche (Team Sunweb) opted out of the fight and simply rode the final climb easy in a big to keep his powder dry for another day.

When his intended team leader Tom Dumoulin was forced out of the race with injury before it began, Roche said team management gave the remaining riders very clear orders.

They were not to try and hang in each day in a bid to possibly finish in the top 15 overall in Paris.

Instead, if they weren’t in the breakaway on particular stages they should shut up shop and wait for another day.

And that’s exactly what Roche did yesterday; going in the gruppetto with team mate Wilco Kelderman.

“It was weird because neither of us had been in that position before and it was a strange feeling to not care about losing 10 or 15 minutes on the way to the finish,” Roche said in his Irish Independent Tour Diary.

Nicolas Roche had quite a controlled stage yesterday

Nicolas Roche continued: “When the groups merged into one big group, myself and Danish rider Michael Valgren from Dimension Data spent much of the time climbing together and chatting at the front.

“I used a 39×30 gearing for the climb to the summit of Planche des Belles Filles, which was probably a bit too high for the 24 per cent gradient near the top.

“Usually at the top of such a hard final climb, I would be slumped over my bike trying to catch my breath or maybe even lying on the road exhausted.

“Today though, I crossed the line, put on warm clothes and turned around for the 10km descent down to the team buses.”

The biggest drama in his day was stopping to aid a fan who fell on the descent and left some of his flesh and a lot of blood on the tarmac.

For his part, while Dan Martin conceded just over or under 10 seconds to many of his general classification rivals on the extra steep gravel section just before the finish, he was happy with his stage.

He said there was a long way to go, suggesting the race would not come down to seconds.

“I feel really good, I lost a bit of time on the dirt section but I’m not worried,” he said after yesterday’s finish.

“I think this Tour will be about who has the least bad day. And today was definitely not a bad day for me.”

Tour stage 6 highlights