The Mûr-de-Bretagne continued its famous run in recent Tours de France, again providing a fantastic spectacle for the viewing public as the top climbers in the Tour de France went head to head.
The early slopes saw the pace set by lesser climbing teams, with Dimension Data and BORA-hansgrohe prominent. Once Julian Alaphillipe (Quick-Step Floors) moved to counter a Daniel Oss (BORA-hansgrohe) surge, the peloton really began to split up as the top-tier climbers and puncheurs flexed their legs.
Richie Porte (BMC) was the first to jump, putting in a short-lived effort before resting after Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) jumped straight on the Australian's wheel. Dan Martin used the slight lull to produce his own attack along the fence, surging clear with 1.2 kilometres left to go to the finishing line.
Martin continued to power away as Thomas and Yates initially tried to bridge before swinging off and looking for someone else to set the pace. That job was taken up by Porte who stayed on the front, churning out a lot of power as he kept the peloton on the trail of Martin.
Only Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) was able to jump free, launching with a massive attack with 500 metres to go and almost tracking down Martin at the finish. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) launched a sprint to come over the line for third, but it was Martin that was the big winner of the day.
A number of riders had been distanced during the series of attacks and counterattacks, with defending champion Chris Froome, Egan Bernal (both Sky), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto NL-Jumbo) all unable to follow. Froome lost eight seconds, Uran 11, while the others all finished 12 seconds behind the stage winner.
The biggest losers of the stage were affected by events before the climb. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) broke his front wheel with 5.5 kilometres remaining, stopping by the side of the road to get a wheel off teammate Simon Geschke before setting off in pursuit of the charging peloton. His team dropped back to help the former Giro d'Italia winner, but Dumoulin never made contact with the front group, finishing 53 seconds down on the stage.
“It was just bad luck," said Dumoulin. "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."
Dumoulin was slugged a further 20 seconds penalty by the race jury after he used his team car to help pace him back into the race. That raised the big Dutchman's time loss to a minute and 13 seconds.
The other casualty of proceedings was Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) who suffered a mechanical with just under five kilometres remaining. Unlike Dumoulin, he was sent immediately on his way with a bike change and made it back to the main peloton.
"My rear wheel broke," said Bardet. "I had to change my bike with Tony (Gallopin) three kilometres from the finish. And so the effort to do that just killed me for the Mur.
"It’s never a good thing to concede time like that. The whole pack was rolling very fast when I had my problem. But of course these are just the hazards of sport."
Greg van Avermaet (BMC) continues to lead the general classification, with Thomas moving up to second ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
Stage 6 of the Tour de France 2018 featured a great win by Dan Martin on top of Mur-De-Bretagne, and we meet some Aussies on tour.