Stybar won the sixth stage of the 2015 Tour de France with a powerful late attack on the last punchy climb into Le Havre.
It was a bittersweet day for Etixx-QuickStep though as Tony Martin crashed in the last 3km and had to be pushed over the line by his team mates. As he crashed within the last 3km he got the same time as the peloton so keeps his jersey, but it is unclear whether he will be able to start tomorrow.
The day began in the usual way with three riders making the escape from the start and quickly getting an advantage of 6′ as the race went along the Normandy coast. The riders in the break included once again Europcar’s Perrig Quemeneur as well as Kenneth Van Bilsen (Cofidis) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka).
The leaders advantage was gradually reduced by the peloton and at 85km to go their lead had been reduced to 5 minutes and then halved again by the time the stage had 60km left. As the race approached the intermediate sprint at Saint-Leonard the break’s advantage was reduced to 1’05” as the sprint teams lined out the peloton for the remaining points on offer.
Degenkolb was first across the line of the peloton with Coquard second and Greipel third, successfully defending his lead in the green jersey competition. After the sprint the breakaway was allowed a bigger lead once again although it was never allowed more than 2′.
Teklehaimanot led the break over the first two climbs to take the mountains points and if he took maximum points at the top of the third climb of the day – the category 4 Cote du Tilleul – then he would become the leader of the KOM competition and become the first African rider to wear the polka-dot jersey.
Despite an attack from Quemeneur and attempts at increasing the pace from Van Bilsen, Teklehaimanot was the one who had the best attack and distanced got a gap of a couple of seconds on his companions to take the KOM point and lead the competition.
With 19km to go the break’s lead came under a minute once again and with the peloton increasing the pace, Teklehaimanot and Quemeneur decided that their day in the breakaway was over and sat up with 10km to go. Van Bilsen who continued on in the lone breakaway with an advantage of 26″ as the peloton continued to up the pace as they approached the short, sharp climb up to Le Havre.
With 5km to go Van Bilsen’s advantage was at a very slender 12″ as BMC strung out the peloton to single file onto the narrow streets of Le Havre. Van Bilsen was caught with 3km to go and the peloton turned their attention to the climb up to the finish.
Etixx-QuickStep led the race in the final km with Tony Martin sat at the front with a team mate in front and Mark Cavendish behind him. In the last km the crash involved Tony Martin as well as GC hopeful Vincezo Nibali which blocked the road for many riders including Nairo Quintana.
Stybar attacked the race with 600m to go as Sagan led the main group, marking attacks from Rodriguez and Kristoff amongst other sprint favourites. They were unable to catch the former Czech champion though as he held off the sprint group to take the stage victory.