Thursday at the Tour is a race of highs and lows for Etixx-Quick-Step as Martin crashes, wearing yellow, and Zdenek Stybar wins the day.

Once again, the Tour de France proved unpredictably cruel. Yellow jersey Tony Martin crashed in the final kilometer as his Etixx-Quick-Step teammate Zdenek Stybar soloed to victory in stage 6. With a touch of wheels, Martin went down, taking Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and several others with him. Ahead, not long after, Stybar attacked on a steep final climb, and the day’s favorites — notably, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) — gave him too much leash in a moment of indecision. The Czech rider rode alone to victory in Le Havre.

“Of course it feels really great,” said Stybar. “I think everyone who is participating here, they wish to win a stage. It was my dream. I thought I had a big chance on the stage over the cobblestones, but I did it today.”

Speaking of his teammate, Martin, he said, “I hope it’s not too serious and that we can fight harder for the yellow jersey.”

Top 10, stage 6

 

Top 10, GC


The early breakaway included Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka), Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar), and Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis).

Teklehaimanot was aiming for the king of the mountains jersey, which he won at the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this season. He claimed the first two climbs of the day. The Eritrean’s efforts netted him the polka-dot jersey, a first for an African rider in the Tour.

The break had a gap of more than 12 minutes at one point, but the peloton slowly crept closer, although there was not much impetus in the chase. Yellow jersey Martin had a flat but got a quick wheel change with around 110km left and rejoined the peloton soon after.

Leading up to the intermediate sprint, the gap was falling quickly, down to 1:15.

After the sprint, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) broke away from the peloton, trying to bridge to the leaders. He didn’t manage to get across the gap and returned to the peloton, which was being driven by Giant-Alpecin.

Inside of the final 15 kilometers, Vanbilsen attacked the breakaway, as the peloton closed in on the lead trio. With less than 10km left, Teklehaimanot and Quemeneur were caught. With BMC Racing pulling hard on the front, Vanbilsen was caught with three kilometers to go.

Etixx-Quick-Step and Giant-Alpecin were next to take over on the front. Sagan was well-positioned, in the top-five, as was Degenkolb. Katusha then took charge at the front.

Martin touched Bryan Coquard’s (Europcar) wheel just under the red kite and hit the ground, taking down Nibali, Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and others. Soon thereafter, the yellow jersey’s teammate, Stybar made his move. Sagan was stuck on the front, looking over his shoulder, but none of the others would help with the chase.

The former cyclocross world champion rode home to victory as the others sprinted for second. Meanwhile, Martin was slow to get back up and was pushed home by his Etixx teammates with what appeared to be a broken collarbone. Nibali finished unassisted, seemingly unhurt by the crash. Movistar also confirmed that Quintana’s injuries were minor: “[He suffered] bruises and wounds in right-hand arm not jeopardizing his TDF aspirations.”

“It’s a superficial wound; now that I’m still with all the ‘heat’ of the stage on me, I don’t feel any pain — I just hope it’s really nothing and feel my elbow OK tomorrow morning,” Quintana said in his team’s statement.

“[I’m] just horrible now,” said Martin. “I touched the back wheel of the Europcar rider. It was super stressful, like always. I can’t really remember, but the speed was not too high. [When it’s like that], normally the injuries are the worst.”

Friday’s stage 7 should be favorable for the pure sprinters, a flat, 190.5km run from Livarot to Fougeres.

Stage 6 results

General classification

Best young rider

Stage 6 points

Points classification

Mountains classification

Teams classification