Tony Martin Quits After Breaking Collarbone

Cycle//Tour de France

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Yellow jersey holder Tony Martin has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after breaking his collarabone in a crash less than 1km away from the end of stage six.

As his Etixx-Quick-Step teammate Zdenek Stybar raced away to claim the stage victory, Martin appeared to move sharply to his right and into a Europcar rider. That created a domino effect, taking last year's winner Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana with them. Chris Froome narrowly escaped a fall after colliding with Nibali. The crash came inside the final kilometre which meant the riders were given the same time.

Martin, in obvious discomfort holding his arm close to his chest, was helped across the link by teammates in the hope that he would be able to start stage seven. But team doctor Helge Riepenhof said the "collarbone is in lots of pieces".

He said: “One of the pieces came through the skin, which means it’s an open fracture. Therefore, even if it was Tony’s wish to start tomorrow, I have to say he is not allowed to.

“He needs surgery straight away, and that is why we are going to the hospital now. We will fix the collarbone there. He is already on antibiotics. It’s a serious injury, and that is why we can’t risk anything and why he cannot be at the start tomorrow.”

Martin's withdrawal from the race means Chris Froome regains the yellow jersey, which he may not have wanted. Having lost the jersey to Martin after stage four, Froome said he could see the benefits of not having the defend the lead.

Away from Martin's crash, stage six also saw one of the most heartwarming moments we're likely to see of this year's Tour. Already a part of history by riding for MTN-Qhubeka, the first African team to take part in the Tour de France, Daniel Teklehaimanot realised a life-long dream by winning all three of the stage's climbs to take the polka dot jersey. 

"I'm really happy about what happened today. I can't believe it," he told the official Tour de France website.

"That was my childhood dream, to get the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France. I was excited about having it just for one day.

"After I scored two points, I was nervous that I wouldn't take one more, otherwise I would be left with nothing."

Classification after stage 6

1 - Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) - 22h 13' 14" (abandon)
2 - Chris Froome (Team Sky) - +12"
3 - Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) - +25"
4 - Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) - +38"
5 - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) - +39"
6 - Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - +40"
7 - Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +46"
8 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) - +48"
9 - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - +1' 15"
10 - Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step) - 01' 16"

Selected others

13 - Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) - +1' 50"
16 - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - +2' 03"
17 - Nairo Quintana (Movistar) - +2' 08"
21 - Romain Bardet (AG2R) - +3' 06"
30 - Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) - +6' 30"

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Tour de France: Stage 7 - 9 Preview

Cycle//Tour de France

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Stages 7, 8 and 9 bring to an end the first week of the Tour de France ahead of the first rest day on Monday. 

Stage 7 - 10 July: Livarot - Fougères (190.5km)

After travelling along the coast of Northern France to Le Havre in stage six, the riders leave Livarot near Caen in Normandy on another long, flat stage to Fougères in Brittany where it will stay for another two days. As in previous days, we're likely to see a breakaway try to get the stage win from distance with the sprinters' teams reigning them in for a bunched sprint finish. Sprinters without a stage win so far will be keen to cross the line first before the flat stages run out next week. 

Stage 8 - 11 July: Rennes - Mûr-de-Bretagne (181.5km)

Rennes, the capital of Brittany, is the starting place of this penultimate stage of the first week. Despite its flat categorisation, there are a few short, sharp climbs and an uphill finish on the Mûr-de-Bretagne, which could cause problems like stage three's climb on the Mûr-de-Huy when Chris Froome took the yellow jersey. 

The Mûr-de-Huy averaged 19%, however, compared to the Mûr-de-Bretagne's 2km at 6.9%. It could see one of the GC contenders make a last ditch attempt to gain a few crucial seconds over their rivals. The time bonuses for the first three riders across the line come to an end on stage eight, so it's their last chance to make up an extra bit of time. Alternatively, the leaders' teams may choose to let the breakaway have its day so as to not risk rivals securing the time bonuses instead.

A puncheur like Joaquim Rodriguez or Alejandro Valverde is suited best for stage victory, but as we saw in Huy, the GC favourites could spring a surprise. 

Stage 9 - 12 July: Team Time Trial Vannes - Plumelac (28km)

The riders stay in Brittany for the team time-trial in the final stage before the much needed rest day. Despite 'only' being 28km, teams will ride together in a relay to try to beat the time of their opponents. Remember: the time of the fifth rider to cross the line is the time given to the team.

Unlike most team time-trials, there are three real inclines, including a 1.7km long finish at 6.2%. These time trial bikes aren't exactly geared towards climbs, so that will make things more difficult for the teams. 

Orica-GreenEdge would have been clear favourites after their win in the Giro d'Italia, but having already lost three riders before the start of stage six, it will be hard for them to replicate that form. 

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Greipel Secures Second Stage Win

Cycle//Tour de France

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Andre Greipel secured his second stage win of the 2015 Tour de France, again denying Mark Cavendish his first 25th career win.

Cavendish launched his sprint 250-300m from the line, but his German rival powered ahead to take the win on stage five. And white jersey holder Peter Sagan also pipped Cavendish to the line. 

On day two, the Brit criticised his team for making a mistake, but this time around, he just admitted he was beaten. 

“I didn’t feel great in the sprint, but nobody felt good today,” Cavendish said. “I was going OK, they just went fastest. The other day it was a mistake we made; today I was just beaten.”

Etixx-Quick-Step team manager Brian Holm said he should've instructed the sprinter to take it easy on Tuesday's cobbles, when teammate Tony Martin secured the yellow jersey.

“It’s hard to say, but we got the yellow jersey,” Cavendish responded. “I think the Tour de France is 21 days long and every day, everything you do every day, has an effect on the day after and the weeks after. But that’s what it’s about; we have the yellow jersey and we were up there yesterday and today. My confidence is good. I’ve done good all week. I’m sure we’ll get wins and I think everyone was on a good buzz when Tony got yellow.”

Tony Martin retained the yellow jersey for a second day, finishing inside the main group. GC favourites Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali also finished in the main group leaving standings unchanged. 

Classification after Stage 5

1 - Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) - 12h 40' 26"
2 - Chris Froome (Team Sky) - +12"
3 - Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) - +25"
4 - Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) - +38"
5 - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) - +39"
6 - Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - +40"
7 - Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +46"
8 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) - +48"
9 - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - +1' 15"
10 - Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step) - 01' 16"

Selected others

13 - Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) - +1' 50"
16 - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - +2' 03"
17 - Nairo Quintana (Movistar) - +2' 08"
21 - Romain Bardet (AG2R) - +3' 06"
30 - Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) - +6' 30"

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Tony Martin Wins Stage and Yellow on the Cobbles

Cycle//Tour de France

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German time-trial champion Tony Martin won stage four over the cobblestones and will wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career on day five. 

Martin was le Tour's unluckiest rider so far, narrowly missing out on the Maillot Jaune by a matter of seconds twice in the first three days. But having stayed with the lead group of the GC favourites through the rough terrain of the cobblestones, Martin was able to power ahead in the final kilometres, despite having to use a teammate's biker following a puncture. 

“Having a flat tyre and changing a bike [I thought I had no chance],” he said.

“With five [kilometres to go], we were together. Nobody wanted to pull, so I decided to give it a try and go full gas ahead. Somehow I found some power. I don’t know what happened today. I was so nervous. I don’t know how many watts I did – maybe more than I ever did. I’m so happy.”

Despite losing the overall lead to Martin, Team Sky's Chris Froome enjoyed a strong ride, maintaining his advantage over the likes of Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana. Froome crashed out of the Tour on the cobbles last year, although it much wetter conditions, but said he can see the positives in losing the yellow jersey to Martin. 

“Hopefully the guys can have a bit of a rest over the next few days,” Froom, who wasn't expecting to be in the yellow jersey so early, said.

“There’s a lot of racing to go and while Tony’s a good time-trialist, he won’t be up there with us when we go into the mountains.”

Classification after Stage 4

1 - Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) - 12h 40' 26"
2 - Chris Froome (Team Sky) - +12"
3 - Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) - +25"
4 - Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) - +38"
5 - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) - +39"
6 - Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - +40"
7 - Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +46"
8 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) - +48"
9 - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - +1' 15"
10 - Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step) - 01' 15"

Selected others

13 - Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) - +1' 50"
16 - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - +2' 03"
17 - Nairo Quintana (Movistar) - +2' 08"
21 - Romain Bardet (AG2R) - +3' 06"
30 - Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) - +6' 30"
 

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Preview: Stage 4-6

Cycle//Tour de France

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After an enthralling first three days, it's time we moved on to the fourth, fifth and sixth stages of the Tour de France.

Stage 4 - 7 July: Seraing - Cambrai (223.5km)

Day four sees the Tour de France enter its native land. Stage 4 sees the peloton leave Seraing in Belgium as riders cross the border into France. 

This stage also brings the dreaded cobblestones, seven to be exact, six of which come in the final 50km. The corresponding stage last year forced Team Sky's Chris Froome to abandon the race with rainy conditions making the cobbles even more treacherous. It was also the stage that Vincenzo Nibali take control of the Tour, gaining time on his nearest rivals. 

It is largely flat with just the one fourth category climb coming early on in the stage. At 223.5km long, the cobblestones will make this stage a tiring and potentially very difficult one. Favourites for the win are one-day Spring classic specialists like Alejandro Valverde or Fabian Cancellara. 

Stage 5 - 8 July: Arras - Amiens (189.5km)

Barring anything crazy, this should be a fairly straight forward stage for the riders as they make their way through the battlefields of the Somme. A breakaway will try to attack from far out, while the sprinters will set up their teams to try to create a bunch sprint finish. That makes the likes of Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan favourites for the stage win. 

Given its simplicity, this isn't a big day for the GC riders. It's highly unlikely that any of those fighting for the yellow jersey come the end of the Tour will gain or lose any time on their rivals. There are plenty of short, sharp hills across the 189.5km route, but none big enough to warrant a categorisation, so there are no King of the Mountain points up for grabs. 

Stage 6 - 9 July: Abbeville - Le Havre (191.5km)

Like stage 3, stage 6 offers a few categorised climb and an uphill finish. But the climbs start much earlier along the route. The first is just 72km into the race with another on 77km. And even before that, there are a few sharp uncategorised hills to navigate. The sprint section comes at around 50km before the finish. The uphill sprint will favour the likes of Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews, rather than pure sprinters like Cavendish and Greipel.

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