Dan Martin pushed to the limit on brutally steep Tour de France finish

Posted on: July 11th, 2019

Dan Martin was clearly on his limit at the finish after a brutally hard climb to the line. But he dug deep and he got the job done. He slipped back a little in terms of time lost to his rivals but there is a very long way to go and a huge amount of climbing to be done yet on this Tour

Dan Martin was made to dig very deep on the final climb of Tour de France stage 6 today to ensure he did not lose too much time.

In the end he surrendered seconds to many of his general classification rivals, though the day was a decent one for him.

He only conceded that time in the last few hundred metres as the large select group fractured on the brutally steep final few hundred metres.

In the end Martin finished in 14th place and Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb), who is not riding for general classification, was 79th, some 15 minutes down on the main favourites.

Roche is targeting stages and said before the race he may look at losing time on the early hilly terrain so he would get some leeway to attack later in the race.

The 160.5km stage today to La Planche des Belles Filles was billed as the first big test of the Tour and one of the hardest stages this year.

A strongman’s breakaway won the day, with three men from it surviving all the way to the line.

Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) won the stage by 11 seconds from Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo).

Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert) also survived from the breakaway to the finish and he was 3rd, some 1:05 behind the winner.

Runner-up Ciccone just about gained enough time on the race leader this morning – Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Julian Alaphilippe – to take yellow from him.

Geraint Thomas was strongest and most willing of the general classification men on the finish; catching and passing Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Julian Alaphilippe who had attacked the favourites group in a bid to limit his losses to the leading duo and retain yellow
Thomas De Gendt leads the breakaway, but his time someone else took the honours from the successful breakaway, which yielded the stage winner and a new yellow jersey
All smiles and on top; a huge moment in the career of Giulio Ciccone. He was 2nd today and rook yellow. He adds it to his stage win and climbers classification from the Giro in May

Ciccone, who won a stage in the Giro and the mountains classification in that race in May, now holds Tour yellow.

He has it by just six seconds from Alaphilippe. Ciccone today picked up six seconds in time bonuses, showing just how tight the scrap for the race lead became today.

Indeed, at the very end of the stage Alaphilippe knew the battle to hold yellow was down to the wire.

As a result he attacked the large favourites group, splitting it significantly, in a bid to limit his losses just before the line.

When he attacked right at the end of the stage only Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) were able to close him down.

Thomas, the defending champion, attacked hard after him and once he kicked he looked back to his old self.

The Welsh rider finished in 4th place, some 1:44 down on Teuns. After Thomas came Pinot with Alaphilippe; both Frenchman on the same time just two seconds down on Thomas.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was next; in 7th place and some seven seconds down on Thomas.

Egan Bernal, a team mate of Geraint Thomas’s at Team Ineos, finished in 12th place nine seconds down on the reigning Tour champion.

And after Bernal had put five seconds into Thomas on the slightly uphill finish two days ago, the roles were reversed today; Geraint Thomas looking significantly stronger at the finish.

Dylan Teuns was the strongest of the breakaway men and he made it count. Above, winning stage 6 of Tour de France today atop La Planche des Belles Filles climb
Deceuninck-QuickStep did a lot of the work to chase the breakaway in a bid to hold the yellow jersey. But Ciccone was too strong up front and he takes the race lead
The eventual top three – Ciccone, Teuns, Meurisse – pull clear of the others in the early escape

Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) had looked very labored on the final climb, though that is often his style and is not always indicative of a struggle.

In the end he held his place in the favourites’ group all the way up the climb and only lost seconds on the very steep part deep into the final kilometre.

The gaps in the favourites group opened when Geraint Thomas decided to go after Alaphilippe.

Martin placed 14th today, some 1:58 down on winner Teuns, and on the same time as Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

The Irish cyclist lost 14 seconds to Thomas and 12 to Pinot while conceding just seven to Quintana.

Dan Martin lost five seconds to Bernal, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Mikel Landa (Movistar).

While the time loss today was not significant, when added to his losses in the TTT on stage 2 he now has ground to make up.

Martin now sits in 18th place overall having jumped 17 places in the general classification after today’s testing stage.

He is 1:46 down on new race leader Ciccone but the real issue is the time he has given away to the general classification contenders; the men he is fighting for a place on the podium or even in the top five.

Dan Martin is 57 seconds down overall on Thomas, 53 seconds down in Bernal, 48 seconds down on Pinot, 42 seconds down on Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), 29 seconds down on Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First) and 27 seconds down on Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).

Tomorrow’s stage 7 takes the riders 230km from Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saône and looks like one of the sprinters; modest climbs coming very early in the day.