• Zdeněk Štybar celebrates his first career Tour de France stage victory (AAP)Source: AAP
Zdeněk Štybar won the 6th stage of the Tour de France in in Le Harve as race leader Tony Martin crashed a kilometre out from the finish.
10 Jul 2015 - 2:19 AM  UPDATED 10 Jul 2015 - 6:24 AM

Štybar (Etixx-QuickStep) mastered the punchy finale which featured a 850 metres long climb with an average gradient of 7 per cent, which flattened out 500 metres before the finish line.

He finished ahead of pre-stage favourite Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Bryan Coquard (Europcar) at the end of the 191.5km stage from Abbeville.

While Štybar was celebrating his victory all eyes were on his clearly distressed team-mate Martin, who was nursing what appeared to be a broken collarbone as he crossed the finish minutes later. A fracture was later confirmed, forcing yet another yellow jersey wearer to withdraw from the race.

Martin crashed in the uphill finish on his left shoulder, taking down a number of riders including GC favourites Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) but they were all classified with the same time as the incident happened in the last three kilometres. 

Martin still leads Chris Froome (Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) on the general classification but will not start Stage 7.

With its sunny and mildly windy conditions, the stage in many ways was a respite for the peloton, battered after several days of crashes and poor weather.

Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka), Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar) and  Kenneth Van Bilsen (Cofidis) made the break of the day which peaked at 10 minutes over a relaxed peloton.

While the pace was chilled for the majority, Teklehaimanot, a recent winner of the mountains classification at the  Critérium du Dauphiné, was all business with his eyes firmly fixed on an historic Tour de France polka dot jersey.

He won the early first and second Category 4 climbs, the Cote de Dieppe and Cote de Pourville-Sur-Mer before Quémeneur led the trio through the only intermediate sprint of the day. Fifty-seconds later John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) came through to win the bunch sprint for fourth ahead of Coquard and points classification leader Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).

Teklehaimanot then made history when then took the points on the Côte du Tilleul, ensuring that he would be the first Eritrean and black African to wear a Tour de France classification jersey.

Quémeneur and Teklehaimanot were reined in just after the 10km to go mark while Van Bilsen was caught later by the peloton with 3km to go.

“I think this is on the level as my first cyclocross world championship in Tabor,” said Stybar. “It was an amazing feeling then and I feel the same as I did there. I don't really get it yet that I have won stage of le Tour de France.”

With his wife at home nursing their newborn child, the victory produced heightened emotions for the 29-year-old from the Czech Republic. “My wife Ine is home with my newborn son, Lewis,” he said. “I only got to see him for a few days and then I had to leave for Le Tour. I want to dedicate this victory to them.”

The opportunity for the win came after Stybar recognised that team-mate, Mark Cavendish, was in difficulty.  “I am extremely happy I got the chance from the team. They gave me the free card to do it. If I can do it, I could go for it. It means a lot because I don't get a lot of chances in a year. Today I had one and I am very happy I made it,” said Stybar. 

“At the same time it is bittersweet,” he added. “I feel very sorry for Tony. But as I have seen here, it's Le Tour de France. You never know what can happen around each corner. I feel terrible for him and can only hope the best for him, as does the entire team."

 

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