Sagan victory hints at further improvement

Tour de France 2018 stage six start – live updates

This was his second career stage victory in the Tour de France, the first having come on the ninth stage of the 2013 race.

At the end of the stage, BMC's Greg Van Avermaet retained the yellow jersey, with Team Sky's Geraint Thomas moving up to second, three seconds back. "I was picking wheels and seemed to be a good position", the Manxman said.

Groenewegen grew up in a cycling environment as his grandfather was a bike manufacturer and his boyhood coach was Jean-Paul van Poppel, victor of nine sprint finishes at the Tour de France. "Phil went early and he's still pretty close on GC [general classification] so I couldn't let him go". I felt good in the fourth stage but the good timing was missing.

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"It was a boring stage, no wind, no stress just boring, I was talking to everybody", he said.

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"It was a very fast ascent and I just held on really", said the Belgian, who finished alongside team leader Richie Porte at three seconds off the pace to pull on the jersey for a third day.

"I had good sensations but nothing outstanding, I was at my maximum".

Defending champion Chris Froome crossed eight seconds after Martin in 18th.

The short climb inside the final kilometre tempted a number of the classics specialists to the fore, including BMC's Greg Van Avermaet in the yellow jersey, but once the road levelled off it was Sagan who still had the most power left in his legs.

Jack Bauer of team Mitchelton-Scott finished the climb behind Skujins but then pushed on to build a gap of 20 seconds with 12 km remaining.

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Dumoulin, the time trial world champion and 2017 Giro d'Italia victor, was slowed by a tire puncture at the foot of the final ascent and lost 53 seconds.

"(Porte) can be confident after this climb", Van Avermaet said.

The rest of the sprinters haven't really hit their form yet, but Sonny Colbrelli of Bahrain-Merida has produced two fine sprint efforts already on stages 2 and 5 and he's not been lacking in speed either on the flatter finishes.

The Dutch cyclist, who rides for Team Lotto NL-Jumbo, clocked almost six hours over the 231-kilometer (143.5-mile) trek from Fougeres, home to the best-preserved and largest medieval fortress in Europe, to Chartres, site of a vast cathedral known for its stained-glass windows.

The pack rides during the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 231 kilometers (143.5 miles) with start in Fougeres and finish in Chartres, France, France, Friday, July 13, 2018.

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