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Dublin: 2 °C Saturday 21 April, 2018

Ireland's Dan Martin falls agonisingly short of winning today's Tour de France stage

Nicolas Roche and Sam Bennett were eight minutes behind.

Image: Stephen McMahon

IRELAND’S DAN MARTIN timed his counter-attack during the eight stage of the Tour de France a shade too late as he finished seconds behind home favourite Alexis Vuillermoz.

In a dramatic finish on the closing climb in Mur-de-Bretagne, Martin was left frustrated after his attempt to mount a late attack was foiled by a lack of space on the final stretch.

Instead it was Vuillermoz who hit the front with just 800m remaining to give the hosts their first victory of this year’s race.

“I knew that that was a good moment to go when he went but I just couldn’t go out,” Martin said afterwards.

“I was on the right of the group and with the wind from the left I couldn’t go anywhere. I was just waiting, waiting, waiting for the group to move left and as soon as they did I went, but it was too late.”

Martin was the last Irishman to win a stage when he triumphed in the Pyrenees two years ago. Shay Elliot, Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and Martin Earley are the others to have tasted success at the grandest cycling race.

The Cannondale-Garmin rider is now 31st in the overall classifications.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took third, a further five seconds back along with the peloton. That group included yellow-jersey holder Chris Froome of Team Sky who maintains his 11-second advantage over Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Reigning Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali dropped off in the final climb, and lost 10 seconds on Froome.

Nicolas Roche and Sam Bennett came home a little under eight minutes behind the winner.

Following Sunday’s team time-trial and Monday’s rest day, the true battle will commence on Tuesday’s first mountain-top finish at La Pierre-Saint Martin.

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