Five years on from his last Tour de France stage victory, Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) took his second on the hilltop finish of the Mûr-de-Bretagne, and with it he earned today's Zwift Rider of the Day.
Since that success in 2013, which came when he outsprinted Jakob Fuglsang in the Pyrenean town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Martin has had to endure five podium placings without reaching the top step. But Martin put paid to that in spectacular fashion today, saying afterwards, "It makes this Tour de France a success, and everything else will be a bonus."
It was a stage that suits Martin's abilities - or at least the final climb did, being short and steep. He wasn't alone though, being joined in the peloton by Ardennes specialists like Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), as well as a number of punchy sprinters and climbers who hoped to take the win.
Rather than waiting and relying on his strong sprint, Martin went for it midway up the 2km climb, towards the end of its steepest gradients. It was a gamble, heading off alone, with 30 of the world's elite puncheurs chasing, but it worked.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) couldn't hold his wheel, instead pulling off the front of the peloton to let Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) have a go. Riding into a headwind, Martin immediately got a gap that wouldn't be closed.
"It was exactly the moment I tried to attack in 2015 but got boxed in," he said, referring to his second place behind Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) the last time the Tour visited. "I knew it was a case of waiting for everyone to be in the red and then I know that I can go further into the red. It's that explosive attack that I didn't know I still had."
AG2R La Mondiale's Pierre Latour was brave enough to set off in pursuit of the flying Irishman, and looked to be closing in with 600 metres to go, but Martin kept going - seemingly finding another gear - to continue the push and claim UAE Team Emirates' ninth victory of the season.
Before the race, Martin told Cyclingnews that his approach to the Tour de France was to treat it as a series of 21 one-day races. It's a tactic that certainly paid off today, on a finish that the Irishman said reminded him of the Cote de Ans at the end of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
During that interview, Martin said he was committed to the GC, and after winning the stage he will be even happier to find out that a number of GC contenders lost time today. Chris Froome (Team Sky), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) and Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) all trailed in behind the chasing group, while Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) lost 31 and 53 seconds, respectively. All in all, a great day for Martin.
Daniel Ostanek: After a string of near-misses, including four second-places, in the five years since his last Tour stage victory, today Martin issued a sharp reminder that he remains among the best puncheurs in the sport.
This spring his Ardennes campaign was derailed by bad luck, including being caught behind a crash at La Flèche Wallonne and a late puncture at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but his class shone through at June's Critérium du Dauphiné with a stage win and fourth overall. We saw it again today, and with Martin in this form we'll no doubt see it again before the Tour's close.
On stage 5 you voted for Peter Sagan as your Zwift Rider of the Day. The Bora-Hansgrohe man notched his second stage victory of the race after expertly seeking out the best wheels to follow on the uphill run to the finish. The world champion timed his move around the outside of northern classics rival Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) just right, before outlasting Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) to claim the tenth Tour stage win of his career.
You can vote for the stage 6 Zwift Ride of the Day below. We will announce the reader's poll winner after Friday's stage 7.
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