Tour de France: Chris Froome takes lead as Tony Martin retires with broken collarbone after crash
Chris Froome survived a near miss at the Tour de France but race leader Tony Martin was not so fortunate as he suffered a fractured collarbone which ended his race.
Froome began the day in second place overall, 12 seconds behind Martin, who crashed 900metres from the finish of the 191.5-kilometres sixth stage from Abbeville to Le Havre, won by his Etixx-QuickStep team-mate Zdenek Stybar.
Martin's exit makes him the second leader to abandon this year's race while in the maillot jaune, after Fabian Cancellara crashed on stage three.
It also means Team Sky's Froome is the defacto leader, even if he does not wear the yellow jersey on Friday's seventh stage.
Froome had a squabble with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali after the stage, with the Italian initially believing that Froome had caused the crash which also forced Nibali to the floor.
The Briton came out of his pedals and almost catapulted off his bike when Martin clipped a wheel and tumbled into a Giant-Alpecin rider and then Nibali.
Nibali fell into Froome, but the 2013 winner stayed upright and safe.
Afterwards Froome boarded the bus of Nibali's Astana team to clear the air.
Froome wrote on Twitter, alongside a video of the incident: "There was some confusion as to who caused the crash, wanted to clear that up with @AstanaTeam @vincenzonibali (definitely wasn't me!)."
Froome added on teamsky.com: "I'm absolutely fine. I took a knock on my knee bone and there was a little bit of blood there, but nothing more than that.
"I had to wait on the roadside as my rear wheel was buckled and I couldn't ride on."
The 3km rule meant those involved in or held up by the crash - including Nairo Quintana (Movistar), another of the race favourites - did not lose time and the top of the general classification remained unchanged.
Nibali had thought Froome was culpable before their impromptu meeting.
The Italian said: "It seemed that Froome sent me down. I was very upset with him, but then, watching the video...
"He also came on the bus, and I said sorry to him. I gave my apologies, it seemed more that it was Tony Martin, I moved right, I found Froome, thought it was his fault.
"Did we clear it all up? Yeah! We are not footballers, we are cyclists."
Martin, who rides alongside Mark Cavendish for Etixx-QuickStep, required the support of three team-mates to remount his bike and cross the line in the yellow jersey, while cradling his left arm.
He went to hospital for X-rays soon after and later took to Twitter to confirm the fracture.
"Collarbone is broken. We will discuss further steps," Martin wrote on Twitter.
Martin said: "I was extremely unlucky. I can't really remember what happened. I touched the wheel of the rider ahead of me.
"It's the Tour, luck and bad luck are very close together. It's often the way accidents happen.
"You're not going that fast and then you fall over each other with all your weight."
As well as having repercussions for Froome, Martin's injury has implications for Cavendish.
Cavendish wrote on Twitter: "Don't think I've felt elation & devastation mixed together like this before."
The Manxman has twice been beaten in bunch sprints in this year's Tour and is chasing his first stage success since 2013 and his 26th in all.
Martin, a multiple world time-trial champion, is a key component of Cavendish's lead-out and now the Manxman will now be without him for Friday's 190.5km stage from Livarot to Fougeres, which is anticipated to end in a sprint.
Etixx-QuickStep have won two stages of this year's Tour, through Martin and Stybar.
The Czech rider stole a march on the bunch to win by two seconds from Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), who was second for a second successive day. Bryan Coquard (Europcar) was third.
It was a frantic conclusion to a day which was also notable for Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka), who was part of the day's three-man breakaway and assumed the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey, the first African to wear it.
Belfast Telegraph Digital