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Tour de France heats up as favourites falter

13 July, 2018, 13:27 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
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Birmingham-born Martin went with a kilometre to go on the final climb and held off the late challenge of Pierre Roger Latour by a second.

The last swept up on the first climb to the finish line.

After the race, Martin admitted that he had gone for it a bit early but it was a risk he felt that was worth taking.

AG2R's Romain Bardet cracked in the heat of the final ascent and lost 31secs, while fellow contender Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), the 2017 Giro d'Italia champion, lost almost a minute after suffering a mechanical problem.

However, the commissaries retrospectively handed Dumoulin his 20 second time penalty pushing him further down the standings.

Martin broke away at the midway point of the straight two-kilometer ascent of the Mur de Bretagne, winning the 181-kilometer (112-mile) leg that started in the western port city of Brest in over four hours.

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"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? It was good to finish second back then but this time I was coming for victory", Martin said.

"In terms of his GC rivals, it puts the Dutchman 1'20" behind Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, while Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Chris Froome are now 21 seconds ahead of the 2017 Giro d'Italia champion. "I don't know what happened - maybe adrenaline - but I wasn't going to let anyone beat me".

Dumoulin, the time trial world champion and 2017 Giro d'Italia victor, started the stage 44 seconds ahead of Froome, but finished just behind him.

Joining Porte in those time gains was Irish stage victor Daniel Martin (UAE), Spaniards Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Mikel Landa (Movistar), Briton Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Welshman Geraint Thomas (Sky), Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and Dane Jacob Fuglsang (Astana). "I've had so many second places at the Tour since the last one". Bardet, who suffered a broken wheel, was forced to swap bikes with a teammate and lost over half a minute to the stage victor Martin.

Friday will see the riders take on the longest stage of the race at 218km when they take off from Fougeres and finish in Chartres.

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