Dan Martin wins Tour de France stage after attacking window of opportunity

UAE Team Emirates rider Daniel Martin of Ireland wins the stage

In the fifth stage, he mastered the final ascent excellently, and he did not start sprinting too early.

"My shape is getting better by the day, I'm proud that I won again today", said Groenewegen, who won the final stage on the Champs Elysees past year. Movistar's Mikel Landa and Education First-Drapac's Rigoberto Uran also fell, while France's great hope, Romain Bardet of AG2R La Mondiale suffered five mechanical problems - three punctures and two bike changes - along the way.

Race favorite Chris Froome crossed safely in the main pack.

Greg Van Avermaet remained in the yellow jersey, extending his lead over Geraint Thomas to six seconds by claiming the three-second in-stage time bonus.

After a few early attacks failed, Yoann Offredo launched a solo effort 35 kilometers in.

With Team Sunweb's Michael Matthews forced to abandon the race in the morning, a sixth green jersey in seven years already looks like being Sagan's to lose.

"To a large extent it feels like a pantomime, but as the guy responsible for all the riders and our staff I still have to take it very seriously", Brailsford said.

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A breakaway group of five riders - Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Damien Gaudin and Fabien Grellier (both Direct Energie) - hit the front from the off and built a gap of nearly seven minutes before it stabilised. But, in the end, it came down to a bunch sprint as expected.

Slovakia's Peter Sagan clinched his second stage win of the 2018 Tour de France on Wednesday, beating Sonny Colbrelli and Philippe Gilbert at the uphill finish of stage five.

The Lotto NL-Jumbo rider, who won the final stage to Paris previous year, had by his own admission suffered a disappointing start to the 2018 Tour before his show of power to beat Gaviria into second and Peter Sagan into third.

Stage eight on Saturday (Sunday NZ time) covers a slightly more challenging terrain over 181km from Dreux to Amiens but again should set up well for sprinters.

Martin becomes just the third Irish rider to win two or more stages on the Tour alongside Ireland's cycling royalty Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.

Friday's flat 231-kilometre leg from Fougeres to Chartes is the longest stage of this Tour.

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