Irish duo avoid trouble as mountains beckon

Ireland’s Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche survived another nerve-shredder at the Tour de France yesterday, the duo crossing the line in the same time as stage winner Marcel Kittel after avoiding a nasty pile-up with two kilometres to go.

Irish duo avoid trouble as mountains beckon

Roche (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) was 22nd on the stage and is now 41st overall while Martin (Garmin-SHARP) was 74th and is still 13th overall.

The latter’s teammate Jack Bauer hit the deck in that high-speed collision but remounted to finish, as did Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson-Hagen, but the latter broke his shoulder and last night was forced to withdraw.

Martin said he was happy to just end the day unscathed.

“I’m counting down these flat stages until we can get to the mountains. It was a hard day yesterday, dreadful all day. Everyone wanted to be at the front because it’s the easiest and safest place to be but and you just can’t relax with everyone wanting to be up there. You’re going through these little French villages and there’s lots of road furniture like traffic islands and it’s just a stressful day but we got through it, another 220k in the legs and today is the last flat day before Paris.”

On his own form, the 26-year-old said he was a bit tired mentally. “It was a hard day to focus. It was such a long day to concentrate and with all the heat we’ve had and I think with the time-trial on Wednesday, I put a lot of effort into it mentally so just concentration-wise I was just a bit off...but we got through it again and the guys helped me fantastically well.”

The race heads for the high mountains tomorrow and that’s something he can’t wait for. “It will be nice to get into roads where it’s just the legs doing the talking, instead of fighting for position all day. After today the stages are a bit more straight forward so we’ll just get through that.”

Sunday’s summit finish to Mont Ventoux is set to see a major showdown with all the GC riders, and Martin admits he’s super excited to test his legs there.

“(It’s) such a long stage so hopefully the distance will suit me as well. But I like climbing and Ventoux is an historic place so it’s going to be great.”

Yesterday’s stage saw Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step) pipped on the line by Kittel with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in third.

There was no shake-up in the overall standings with Chris Froome (Team Sky) still holding a 3.25 advantage over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) with Bauke Mollema (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) 12 seconds further back.

* See Results page.

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