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Tour de France 2018: Stage 6


The Tour de France peloton has assembled in Brest for the start of stage 6, which brings the race through the department of Finestere and into Cotes-d'Armor ahead of a demanding finale - twin ascents of Mur-de-Bretagne, with an uphill finish on the category 3 climb. Roll out is at 13.05 local time, with the bunch slated to hit kilometre zero at 13.25.

The general classification ahead of stage 6 is as follows:

This is the Tour's third finish at Mûr-de-Bretagne after Cadel Evans won there in 2011 and Alexis Vuillermoz triumphed in 2015. There is a twist to the usual finale this afternoon, of course, as the race tackles the 2km ascent (average gradient 6.9%) twice in succession. They cross the finish for the first time with 16km to go. A bonus sprint follows at 13km to go, and then it's full gas to the base of the climb. Patrick Fletcher has written this preview of a stage with the potential to shake up the overall standings.

The peloton has rolled away from the start line and is negotiating the 10km neutralised zone. As ever when the Tour visits Brittany, the crowds on the roadside are numerous and raucous. 

Today is the 20th anniversary of Tom Steels' victory in Dublin's Phoenix Park on the opening road stage of the 1998 Tour de France, and the 20th anniversary of Zinedine Zidane's brace in the World Cup final that evening. And it is, of course, now twenty years since the Festina Affair shook the Tour. We're now a few 'new generations' on from that tumultuous summer, but what, if anything, has really changed? William Fotheringham reflects on the Festina Affair in a special edition of the Cyclingnews Podcast, which is available here.

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The intermediate sprint is at Plouguernevel (135km) before the first ascent of Mur-de-Bretagne after 162km.

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Dion Smith had a spell in the polka dot jersey earlier in the week and the New Zealander might be hoping to regain the tunic by picking up points early on here.

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Fresh from helping Tom Dumoulin to 2nd overall at the Giro d'Italia, Chad Haga (Sunweb) is making his Tour de France debut and is writing about the experience for Cyclingnews. Read the second instalment of his blog here.

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The early part of this stage brings the race through Tro-Bro Leon country, though not, of course, on the dirt and gravel roads that characterise the event. Damien Gaudin seems inspired nonetheless - he won the race last year.

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Quick-Step Floors have two riders within touching distance of the maillot jaune today. Philippe Gilbert is 3 seconds down on Greg Van Avermaet, and Julian Alaphilippe is a further 3 seconds back in 5th overall. Today's finale, in theory at least, lends itself better to Alaphilippe than to Gilbert, but the Belgian showed real strength in sprinting to 3rd yesterday after attacking with 800 metres to go.  "People will say we did wrong because we didn't win but I think we did well," Gilbert said. Patrick Fletcher has more here.

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Peter Sagan claimed his second stage win of the Tour yesterday to cement his position atop the points classification. After the stage, he noted that his Classics rival Greg Van Avermaet had provided an inadvertent lead-out. "We controlled the race from middle with BMC and the guys put me in good position next to Sky in the finale. They did full gas from bottom of the climb, then Philippe (Gilbert) attacked but I didn't let him go. Then Greg van Avermaet started his sprint really early and it was a perfect lead out. Thanks Greg!" Sagan said. And, amid all the - justifiable - talk of Ardennes contenders like Alaphilippe, Dan Martin or Alejandro Valverde winning on Mur-de-Bretagne today, it's worth noting the name of the rider in fourth place when the Tour visited in 2015 - one P. Sagan.

At the start in Brest today, Sagan noted that the finale is rather tougher than it was in 2015, though much will depend on how his rivals approach the twin ascents of Mur-de-Bretagne. "Today it’s very important to have legs in the final, I think," Sagan said. "It depends on the style of the race, for sure. We will see. I did it 2015, just once, and that was enough. Making it twice with another hard climb in between is going to be a hard final. It’s going to be about legs and not about patience. Everything is possible and I have some chance for sure, but it depends on how it’s going to be in the final."

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In a word, yes. There is a front group of around 40 riders, led by Quick-Step and seemingly containing most of the GC contenders, but there are a few other groups of riders scrambling to get back on terms.

The bunch has been splintered into three distinct groups as Quick-Step continue to pile on the pressure at the head of the race. Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan and Chris Froome are all in this front group with Quick-Step.

Quick-Step might allies of circumstance in BMC and Bora-Hansgrohe in this front group. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Rigoberto Uran (EF-Drapac) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) seem to be aboard, but who has missed the bus?

Movistar are leading the chase in the second part of the peloton, which suggests that Mikel Landa has missed the split.

Correction. Nairo Quintana is in this second group, together with Jakob Fulgsang. Movistar and Astana lead the chase in pursuit of the front group. Valverde is the Movistar man in the front part of the peloton.

The third portion of the peloton is being led en masse by LottoNL-Jumbo, who appear to have been caught badly wrong-footed.

Vincenzo Nibali, Dan Martin, Steven Kruijswijk and Jakob Fuglsang are also in this second echelon with Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa, but they look set to catch up to the Quick-Step-led front end of the peloton.

The third portion of the peloton, meanwhile, is a minute down on this Quick-Step-propelled group and will struggle to get back on terms.

The Quintana group has bridged back up to the front end of the peloton. They are 4:30 down on the five escapees, while the third group on the road is 5:30 behind.

Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) appears to be the only rider with GC aspirations to be missing from the front of the peloton. His LottoNL team leads the third group on the road, and they have more than a minute to make up on Froome, Quintana, Porte, Bardet and company.

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Shortly after he regains contact with the peloton, Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) pauses for a change of bike. It seems the Slovenian mounted a traffic island and fell, though it's not clear what damage he did to his bike in the incident.

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Alexis Vuillermoz claimed the honours at Mur-de-Bretagne in 2015, ahead of Dan Martin, who rued his positioning at the base of the climb. It was a day that also saw Vincenzo Nibali unexpectedly lose 10 seconds to his GC rivals - a pointer as to how his Tour defence would go - and the Sicilian will hope for better this afternoon.

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Pichon's spirited sprint has fractured the unity of this front group. Damien Gaudin attacks immediately afterwards and opens a small gap. Turgis leads the chase.

In the main peloton, Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) wins the sprint for 6th ahead of Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan.

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Gaudin is back at Jean-Rene Bernaudeau's team this year after starting his career with Bouygues Telecom in 2008. His best season to date at WorldTour level came in his final year at Europcar in 2013, when he won the prologue of Paris-Nice and then claimed 5th place at Paris-Roubaix, though he had a very decent campaign in the colours of Armee de Terre last year after a low-key three seasons at AG2R La Mondiale.

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A delegation from Dimension Data is moving up, perhaps with an eye to setting up Tom Jelte Slagter for the finale.

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Grellier forces the pace on an unclassified ascent, and Gaudin and Turgis are distanced, though not irretrievably.

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A crash in the peloton sees Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) go down. Fuglsang appeared to have a (relatively) soft landing in the verge, and he sets off again after a bike change. 

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As the pace increases and the road rises and dips, a selection is being forced in the peloton. A number of sprinters like Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish and Alexander Kristoff have been distanced. Fuglsang and his teammates are picking their way through the stragglers.

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The four leaders approach the base of the first ascent of Mûr-de-Bretagne with a lead of 30 seconds over the fragmenting peloton.

Fuglsang rejoins the peloton just ahead of the ascent to Mûr-de-Bretagne.

Movistar and Team Sky are prominent at the head of the peloton on the approach to Mûr-de-Bretagne.

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Bora-Hansgrohe hit the front as the peloton catches the remants of the break. Only Grellier and Smith survive out in front. Grellier is struggling with the gradient, and he has just 15 seconds in hand.

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Smith is caught and now Grellier is about to be pegged back by the bunch. 

Toms Skuijns (Trek-Segafredo) is poised as the peloton closes in on Grellier. The Latvian will surely look to pick up the mountains points if he can summon the strength.

Grellier is caught within sight of the summit. Sky, Movistar and Bahrain-Merida are all represented near the front, and though the pace has abated slightly, the tension remains.

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There is a bonus sprint in Saint-Mayeux with 13km to go, and it will be fascinating to see who sprints for the seconds from this reduced peloton.

Bauer, meanwhile, has a lead of 10 seconds over the peloton.

Van Avermaet marks Gilbert on the approach to the bonus sprint. Bauer has 22 seconds in hand and should lead through the 13km to go point.

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Geraint Thomas (Sky) jumps to take second place - and two bonus seconds. It was an uphill sprint, with the gradient touching 9% near the line.

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Geraint Thomas is now just 3 seconds behind Van Avermaet on GC, and the Welshman could yet find himself in yellow by day's end.

Tomasz Marczynksi (Lotto Soudal) took the 1 second bonus for third at that sprint, incidentally.

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Disaster for Tom Dumoulin, who suffers a puncture on the approach to Mûr-de-Bretagne. He gets a wheel change from Simon Geschke but he looks destined to lose ground here. He has considerable ground to make up before the climb begins and the pace is extremely high.

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Dumoulin is now working his way through the convoy of cars, and some Sunweb riders have dropped back to help him.

Romain Bardet also punctured, but he looks to have had a quick change and he seems to be at the very rear of the peloton. He still has some ground to make up to his fellow GC contenders, however.

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Dumoulin has 33 seconds to make up on the peloton, which is now being led by Michal Kwiatkowski for Team Sky.

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Dimension Data set the tempo on the early slopes, then Daniel Oss takes over for Bora-Hansgrohe. Alaphilippe is on his wheel.

Dumoulin is on the climb and performing an uphill time trial as he chases the rear of the bunch.

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Romain Bardet has been dropped from the front group... Dumoulin is also destined to lose time.

Dan Martin still has what seems to be a winning lead, but Pierre Latour is chasing hard...

Pierre Latour closes as the road flattens out but Dan Martin looks to have it...

Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) wins stage 6 of the Tour de France at Mûr-de-Bretagne.

Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) was second, 1 second back, while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took third at 3 seconds.

Alaphilippe was 4th ahead of Rafal Majka.

Bardet conceded ground in the final kilometre, while Dumoulin came across the line 50 seconds down after his late puncture.


That's Dan Martin's second stage win at the Tour after his triumph in Bagneres-de-Bigorre in 2013. Despite reports of a headwind in the finale, Martin went from distance and had the strength to hold off Latour as the road flattened out.

Bardet conceded 31 seconds and Dumoulin lost 53 seconds. Both riders suffered mechanical problems in the run-in to Mûr-de-Bretagne.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) was 12th on the stage, 3 seconds behind Martin, and he will retain the yellow jersey.

Chris Froome was distanced slightly as the front group broke up. He crossed the line 18th on the stage, 8 seconds behind Martin.

General classification after stage 6:

Dan Martin speaks: "t’s a great feeling to actually get a win again. So many second places at the Tour since the last one. I was a bit nervous because of the headwind, I didn’t think it was going to happen. The race went so hard on the first part of the climb - I saw everyone was on the limit, and there were no teammates left, so why not have a try? The legs just were there - I don’t know what happened. Maybe adrenaline or what. I felt really good yesterday and didn’t quite get up there in the final to have a go. It was a good sign for today, I was really relaxed all day - not confident but looking forward to having a crack, looking forward to racing hard on the last climb. The last time I got second here, I had already lost a bit of time before the stage, and I thought maybe they’d let me go. Today there was no question, I just attacked as hard as I could. It makes this Tour de France a success, and everything else will be a bonus."

Greg Van Avermaet on holding yellow for another day: "I’m really happy to keep it - it was a really hard climb. The tempo never slowed down, and that is what kind of killed me to do a better placing. I’m really happy I didn’t lose any time on the rivals, and Alaphilippe was not second on the stage so I could keep it. Overall a good day for me and Richie.

Pierre Latour admitted after the stage that he had been unaware of Bardet's mechanical problems on the run-in: "We said that if we were in a good place on today’s stage we would try and win the stage, perhaps with Alexis, that was if Romain didn’t have any problems. At the beginning of the climb there weren’t any problems, so I pushed hard. When I was fighting with Richie Porte, the wind gusted in from the right and it meant that I just missed the point of attack, which wasn’t great. I didn’t actually know about that [Bardet's problem], nobody told me. I don’t think there was anything I could have done. We’ll try to fight to get it back."

Here are some of the initial reactions from today's stage. Stephen Farrand, Patrick Fletcher and Brecht Decaluwe will have more in-depth news and reaction in due course.

Tom Dumoulin is now 19th overall at 1:23 and he had this to say on his ill fortune in the finale: “It was just bad luck – I got a wheel from Simon as soon as possible and we tried to go as quickly as possible to the finish after that. I knew I wouldn’t make it back so it was about limiting the time loss. There was a movement in the peloton and I couldn’t avoid it. I hit the wheel in front and needed to change wheel and chase to the finish as hard as possible but it was very difficult. We knew that the first 5 days we were very lucky, but we also knew that bad luck could hit us too and it did today. It’s very unfortunate but it is how it is. I’m disappointed of course, I would have liked to be in a better position on GC but that’s how it is.”

Thanks for joining our live coverage of today's stage. A full report, results and pictures are available here, and we'll be back with more on Cyclingnews tomorrow. In the meantime, we'll have all the news and reaction from Mur-de-Bretagne.


General classification after stage 6:

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