Straight after the finish of stage 6 in the 2015 Tour de France there wasn't any celebration going on at the Etixx-QuickStep team bus, apart from some taps on the shoulder. The victory from Zdeněk Štybar in Le Havre clearly wasn’t weighing in against the possible abandoning of race leader Tony Martin, who crashed in the final kilometre of the race.
Team manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed that a departure from Martin would be catastrophic. “It’s with mixed emotions that I’m standing here. We’re obviously very happy with the win from Stybi. We believed in it. But if you lose the yellow jersey like that there’s major consequences. Don’t forget there’s still the team time trial on Sunday,” Lefevere said.
A few moments later several riders had rolled in and Lefevere learned more about the circumstances with Tony Martin and injuries.
“I think we lose him. I hope we don’t but the riders were clear. They tend to judge a situation better. They said his collarbone was broken. It’s sad to lose the yellow jersey like that. Don’t forget it’s a man less for the train for Mark tomorrow. Our maillot jaune was also one of strongest men of the team for the team time trial,” Lefevere said.
Martin later vowed to fight on in Tour de France despite receiving confirmation of a fractured collarbone.
The team’s dedicated sprinter Mark Cavendish was riding just behind Martin, Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who all were included in the crash.
“It was pretty chaotic. At that speed you don’t slide or anything. You tangle. You just go over and down. It’s kind of bittersweet. We won it with Stybi but I hope Tony’s alright. I really hope he is ok," Cavendish said.
Cavendish hesitated whether to stop for his teammate or go on and try to mix in for the sprint and its points at stake for the green jersey. In that moment of hesitation, manoeuvring through the fallen riders, he clipped his foot out of the pedal.
“At a split second I kind of hesitated to stop for Tony or to go for the sprint. My foot came out so I kind of stopped but you can’t turn around in a race. Had I gone back and turned around, you go against the race then you’re getting fined and so.”
Cavendish added that he was super happy for stage winner Štybar, his Czech teammate. He also heralded his team that has been riding well so far in this Tour de France.
“He’s super, down to the ground. He delivered today. I’m super happy. The team rode really good today. We’ve got two machines with Golas and Vermote, in his first Tour. I think we’re all going to see how Tony is.”
Martin's injury will certainly have an impact on the chances of Etixx-QuickStep to win more stages. On Friday, the lead-out train for Cavendish will have to be reshuffled in a stage that is likely to become a bunch sprint finish.
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