Dubai: UAE Team Emirates rider Dan Martin was confidently looking forward to maintaining his momentum as the Tour de France progresses.
Martin earned a second Tour de France stage win of his career and in doing so became the first-ever UAE Team Emirates rider to claim the coveted prize when he powered his way to an outright win in Stage Six late on Thursday.
The Irishman, who had finished sixth a day before on Stage Five, had looked strong in the saddle. The rest of the team protected Martin well throughout the 181km route from Brest to Mur de Bretagne allowing him to match all the attacks and accelerations in the final kilometres of the stage. On the final climb to the line, Martin timed his own attack to perfection and, as the gradient ramped up to 12 per cent, the Irish rider animated the race by powering away from the peloton and held off the chasers to register a first-ever win for the UAE Team Emirates in the Tour de France.
“This is such an amazing feeling for me because I’ve had so many second places on the Tour since winning my first stage in 2013. I was really relaxed all day and I was really looking forward to having a crack,” Martin said after his historical win.
“When we got closer to the finish I was a bit nervous because of the head wind and I didn’t think it was going to happen. Then the race went really hard during the first part of the climb and a lot of riders dropped off at that point I noticed that I didn’t have any teammates left so I thought why not have a try — and I did,” he added.
Martin had tried a similar move in 2015 when the Tour de France last visited, but he had managed only a second place then. But this time, the Irishman was wiser and more mature after having raced for Quick Step before coming on board for the Abu Dhabi-based outfit at the beginning of the season.
“It was the same place that I tried to attack in 2015, but got boxed in. It was a case of waiting for everybody to be in the red, because I know I can go further into the red. I put in an explosive attack that I didn’t know I still had, but there was no way I was letting anyone beat me to the line,” Martin recalled.
“Thankfully the legs were there and they took me all the way. Getting this victory — especially as the team’s leader and not just a GC rider — makes the tour a success already and now anything else is a bonus,” he added.
Friday’s Stage Seven was scheduled to leave Brittany from the town of Fougères, and head west towards Chartres along a flat 231km route. While the stage is relatively simple, it is the longest in this year’s Tour. The course is also known for its fierce cross winds in the final kilometers, which will force the formation of echelons and cause problems for the riders hoping to contend a bunch sprint finish.