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"Then when I got to the front, and Renshaw swung off. Tony was up with Cav, so I thought 'OK, he is safe.' I then rode to bring Cav to the front, but saw he was in a bit of difficulty."

Photo: Sirotti






09.07.2015 @ 21:41 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Zdenek Stybar launched very early on the last slopes of a punchy Le Havre finale for 191.5km Stage 6. The gamble paid off, as Stybar won for the first time in his career, in his first participation, at Le Tour de France on Thursday. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished 2nd. Bryan Coquard (Europcar) was 3rd. The peloton finished 2" down on the Czech rider.


However, the finale was not all good news for Etixx - Quick-Step. Yellow jersey wearer Tony Martin was caught in a crash inside 1km to go, and had to cross with a new bike. Four Etixx - Quick-Step teammates rode with the German rider, and race leader, across the finish line.


The race came back together with 3km to go after Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) went solo out of an original breakaway with 12.6km left to race. The breakaway had more than an 11 minute advantage early on in the race.


Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to Stage 7, from Livarot to Fougères, on Friday. The 7th Stage again has a slightly uphill into the finish, and while the stage could end in a group arrival, this might be a chance for a breakaway to make it to the line. This stage wraps up a period of several chances for the sprinters.


"The last 10 kilometers were really crazy," Stybar said. "We had really great information from the team car. But still, to make that information real is not really easy.


"I saw Tony was in front with Mark Renshaw and Cav. I was behind Kwiato. But in the turns on the downhill, we lost too many positions. So I thought I could make it to the front to help Cav.


"Then when I got to the front, and Renshaw swung off. Tony was up with Cav, so I thought 'OK, he is safe.' I then rode to bring Cav to the front, but saw he was in a bit of difficulty.


"In that moment I was in the wheel of Van Avermaet, Sagan, and Kristoff. I also saw that they didn't have any helpers left. So I thought if I go now, the one who will close the first gap to me will lose the sprint, so maybe no one will chase. So I gave it all or nothing as we decided with the team.  It was really great to make it.


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


"For this is a very important win on a personal level. My wife Ine is home with my newborn son, Lewis. 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.


"Also, this is special for me in terms of my development as a road rider. When I changed from cyclocross to road I had a difficult time adjusting. I was working really hard to make the transition. I made some nice results, such as Strade Bianche, and winning Eneco Tour 2nd Stage. But also I had a lot of bad luck with my two crashes. One at Eneco, and another in Ardooie for cyclocross. So this means a lot for me.


"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.


"At the same time it is bittersweet. I feel very sorry for Tony. For Tony it must be crazy because he lost the TT, which was what he was focusing on, by a few seconds. Then he had two stages where he was just seconds short of the yellow jersey. Then he took it on a stage where he probably didn't expect to take it, and he won solo. Then today, he crashed. So for him, personally, it must be crazy.


"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.


"I have mixed feelings after winning this stage because Tony Martin crashed. When I caught up with him at the award ceremony, he only congratulated me and told me to enjoy the moment but he didn't say how much he was injured."



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