Porte improves position, Martin wins stage

Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome

Five years after his first stage win and the last Irish victory on the Tour, at Bagneres-du-Bigorres in the Pyrenees, Martin took glory on the shorter but equally steep slopes of the aptly named Mur de Bretagne, or "Wall of Brittany".

While his team once again showed cracks when finishing 15th of 22 squads in the stage three team time trial in Cholet last Monday, Martin's victory yesterday sees him move into 21st place overall, a minute and 27 seconds behind current race leader Greg Van Avermaet of BMC.

"There's no reason I can't look at it [the Mûr de Bretagne], even though I'm contending for GC [the general classification]", Martin said earlier this week.

The pace of the peleton quickened ahead of the category three climb to Mur de Bretagne, with the gap to the front shortening to under a minute with 20km to go.

"But when I went to go, Quick-Step and Bora have just got a different kind of level of top speed".

Four-time champion Froome and the other favorites finished safely in the main pack on Stage 7, which - unlike earlier sprinting legs - was without serious crashes.

"It's never good to lose time".

Australian cycling star Richie Porte had a cheeky dig at Chris Froome after the defending Tour de France champion lost time to his rivals. "I don't know what happened - maybe adrenaline - but I wasn't going to let anyone beat me".


"It was a boring stage, no wind, no stress just boring, I was talking to everybody", he said.

"I had good sensations but nothing outstanding, I was at my maximum".

Van Avermaet, a support rider for Porte, has held the yellow jersey since BMC won the team time trial on Stage 3.

Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d'Italia champion, suffered a puncture with five kilometres to go and ended the day 53 seconds behind the victor.

There was further fallout too from Tom Dumoulin's time penalty, imposed after Thursday's finish to Mûr-de-Bretagne, when Froome's rival slipstreamed his team vehicle after suffering a broken wheel five kilometres from the finish.

"I have my own style", he said when asked about his similarity to the veteran Manxman with 39 stage wins under his belt.

The peloton set off amid good racing conditions for the longest stage on the race, with a finish line opposite the 800-year-old cathedral of Chartres, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The slightly-built Bardet's AG2R team will have to race 17 stages of the 2018 Tour a man down after an over-curious roadside fan stepped into the path of the onrushing peloton to take a photo.

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