Tour de France: Martin wins stage as Thomas climbs to second overall

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Van Avermaet leads Britain's Geraint Thomas (Sky) by three seconds in the overall standings, with American Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and France's Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step) at five and six seconds respectively. I'm really grateful. I was behind Kristoff and he was going, I stayed in is wheel and thought now is the moment.

"I hit the back wheel of Bardet when there was the movement in the peloton and I couldn't avoid it", the Dutch rider said.

It was a first stage win of this Tour for Groenewegen and the second of his career after victory on the final day in Paris a year ago.

During his chase back to the peloton, Dumoulin took a long draft behind his team vehicle but race commissaires deemed it too long - and deducted a further 20 seconds from his time.

"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.

It was in 2011 when the Tour first finished a stage on the steep, two-kilometre climb to Mur-de-Bretagne.

"I talked to everyone", Sagan said when asked how he passed the time after finishing third in the mass sprint which, with its uphill finish, suited him.

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An escape group featuring Sylvain Chavanel embarked on a long-range bid with Van Avermaet's BMC doing most of the work at the head of the chasing peloton, and Bora joining the chase late.

The pair have two stage wins each from the first five and Sagan had predicted Tuesday the Colombian might struggle with the climbs.

It was Sagan's second stage win of this Tour following stage two into La Roche-sur-Yon on Sunday, and the 10th of his career. The team did a very good job today and I'm grateful for the confidence that I get from the team.

"The Mur de Bretagne is much harder than this", said Van Avermaet, who would not rule Sagan out of contention for the sixth stage.

The riders now face a long transfer to Annecy, but have Monday's rest day before the race moves into the Alps and the true battle for yellow emerges, albeit without one of its biggest likely protagonists in Porte.

The 231km stage from Fougeres to Chartres saw multiple breakaway attempts, but on a flat route with occasional crosswinds, none seemed likely to stick - not least because the majority were undertaken by lone riders.

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