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Monday 5 December 2016

Leader Martin out after breaking collarbone in crash

Tour de France leader Tony Martin abandoned the race yesterday after breaking his collarbone in a sixth stage crash that also sent 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali and others tumbling in the final 500 metres.

"He abandons," an Etixx-Quick Step spokesman said of the German.

Briton Chris Froome, Team Sky's 2013 Tour winner, will take over as race leader going into today's seventh stage, a 190.5 km ride from Livarot to Fougeres. He leads American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) by 13 seconds.

After a few days of crashes and nervous racing, the peloton took it relatively easy on the Normandy coastline until the last kilometre when Martin lost his balance and several leading contenders followed him down, with Froome narrowly avoiding the mayhem. Among the casualties were Italian Nibali, Colombian Nairo Quintana and Van Garderen as Martin's team mate, Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic, sprinted to victory in the 191.5-km leg from Abbeville to Le Havre.

Nibali had bruises on his knee while Quintana had blood on his arm. Quintana's Movistar team mate Alejandro Valverde also crashed earlier in the stage, hurting his leg and buttocks. Both will continue the race, the team said.

Slovakian Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was second in the stage and France's Bryan Coquard (Europcar) took third place. Regulations state that on a flat stage a rider held up in an incident in the final three km is credited with the same time as the winner.

That meant Martin retained the overall lead, until he withdrew, after being pushed by two team-mates to the finish line.

"I don't even remember how I went down. I touched the rear wheel of the rider in front of me (Coquard)," Martin said.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who held the overall leader's yellow jersey earlier in the event, had to pull out because of a back injury after crashing on Monday.

Dan Martin finished the stage in 47th, two seconds behind the winner, and is 33rd in the GC. Nicolas Roche and Sam Bennett were 165th and 166th, respectively, both finished three minutes and 20 second behind Stybar. Roche is now 69th and Bennett 176th overall.

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