Unbelievable scenes as Ireland's Dan Martin wins Tour de France stage

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It was a first stage win of this Tour for the LottoNL-Jumbo rider and the second of his career after victory on the final stage in Paris previous year. "It's never good to lose time", said Bardet, who has finished on the podium in the past two Tours.

The Team UAE Emirates rider jumped away from the main pack inside the final kilometre and never looked back, beating France's Pierre Latour by one second and Spain's Alejandro Valverde by three.

Sensing the danger, overall contenders Richie Porte of BMC and Sky's Geraint Thomas were the first of many to unsuccessfully try to close Martin down.

It was a heart-thumping finale that immediately had Martin thinking of wife Jess, who was watching at home and is expecting twins in October. It's challenging enough for the racers who specialize in the one-day spring classics over that terrain. "It's a great feeling to get a win again". It means Avermaet restores his six-second advantage over Geraint Thomas after the Team Sky rider won the bonus point on Thursday during stage six.

On the same long straight uphill three years ago, Martin finished second and he has been hinting for the past few days that he had fireworks planned this year.

Ultimately, it paid dividends, even if he admitted afterwards to being anxious for a brief period. "I have the legs to win now, so we celebrate tonight and maybe the same tomorrow".

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"Today I just attacked as hard as I could". I was a bit nervous because of the headwind. I'm really grateful. I was behind Kristoff and he was going, I stayed in is wheel and thought now is the moment.

Froome is 14th, 1:05 behind Van Avermaet.

With almost six hours in the saddle and hardly any action until the finale, there was plenty of time to relax and fool around during the longest stage of the Tour de France on Friday. "I don't know what happened - maybe adrenaline - but I wasn't going to let anyone beat me".

"Having already lost 53 seconds on the stage - finishing 46th after a big effort from team-mate Soren Kragh Andersen, in the white jersey, to minimise their losses, he now drops to 19th - 1'23" behind yellow jersey Greg van Avermaet.

Great French hope Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and last year's Giro d'Italia victor Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) were the biggest losers among the overall favourites, losing 31 seconds and 53 seconds respectively.

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