SAN DIEGO, July 9, 2015 – The Tour de France took a long winding ride along the coast of Normandy on Stage 6. Although the sprinters were expected to take their chances at winning one of the last stages before hitting the climbs in the Alps and the Pyrenees, it wasn’t ever going to be easy.
The man who had the toughest day turned out to be wearing the yellow jersey. Just before the sprint climb to the finish, Tony Martin of Etixx-Quickstep crashed along with general contendersVicenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana as they jostled to get in position to fight for the win today. He hit the ground hard with his left shoulder. Several of his teammates stayed with him, and rode with him to the finish. Martin will keep the yellow jersey today, but he was favoring his shoulder during the jersey presentation and left after the podium presentation in an ambulance.
It is unknown at press time whether he will be able to continue the race. If Martin cannot ride Friday, the yellow jersey will go back to Chris Froome of Sky Racing. He may not want it. One rider wearing yellow left the race due to injury, Fabian Cancellera; Martin might be number two.
The route included lots of rolling terrain and several short climbs with gradients between five and seven percent. The finish line is positioned at the top of a hill after a 500 meter climb. It had Peter Sagan’s name written all over it, with classics riders like Alexander Kristoff and John Degenkolb expected to be hot pursuit. None of them have won a stage of the Tour so far this year.
But after the crash, the cards will all shuffled as the teams had to try and regroup. Martin’s Etixx-Quickstep teammate Zdenek Stybar, who is a cyclo-cross champion outside the Tour, saw his chance and took it, taking off up the final climb and holding off the pure sprinters to win the stage.
The happiest note of the day came in a history making ride for an African team and rider. Daniel Teklehaimanot of MTN-Qhubeka rode aggressively on the stage to pick up climbing point and won King of the Mountains jersey. The Eritrean made his dream come true, saying he had dreams of winning the polka dot jersey since his childhood.
The Tour’s leading riders with ambitions of standing on the podium in Paris all maintained their positions after Stage 6, but the fate of Tony Martin seems precarious. Chris Froome of Sky Racing, Alberto Contador of Tinkoff Saxo, American Tejay Van Garderen of BMC and Nairo Quintana of Movistar all maintained their standings. American Andrew Talansky stays in 20th place, 2:51 back.
Stage 7 takes the Tour into Brittany. It is the second longest stage of the Tour. Riders will encounter more rolling terrain but no real climbing like today’s stage. It may be the day for a bold breakway attempt for riders ambitious enough to give it a try.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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