The chaos caused by a crash inside the last kilometre of Thursday’s sixth stage of the Tour de France put paid to Mark Cavendish’s hopes of claiming a first win in this year’s event.
With 800 metres to go Cav’s Etixx Quick Step team-mate and yellow jersey holder Tony Martin collided with another rider causing the peloton that was set-up for a sprint finish to fragment.
Although not caught up in the crash directly the Manx Missile was to trail in behind another of his team-mates, Zdenek Stybar, who took advantage of the confusion to break clear and cross the line first.
Prior to the dramatic end of the stage, Europcar’s Perrig Quémeneur, Cofidis’s Kenneth Van Bilsen and MTN-Quebeka’s Daniel Teklehaimanot broke away 5km in, holding a comfortable lead over the rest of the peloton for the majority of 191.5km between Abbeville and Le Havre.
However, as the race reached the latter the peloton upped their pace, reeling in the trio with only a few kilometres to go.
A tricky tight and uphill finish was always going to prove a test for Cavendish and his Etixx Quick Step leadout team but the Belgium outfit looked well placed to give Cav a shot at the stage honours until Martin’s crash, which has ruled the German rider out of the event with a broken collarbone.