Dan Martin rode impressively on stage six of Paris-Nice, riding in defence of his QuickStep Floors team-mate Julian Alaphilippe and helping the Frenchman keep his yellow jersey of race leadership.
Martin answered an early attack by Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and then rode for Alaphilippe despite his own high placing in the overall standings.
When Alaphilippe was unable to keep pace with Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) on the final climb, Martin remained with him and coaxed him to fourth place on the stage, 29 seconds behind the solo winner Simon Yates (Orica-Scott).
Martin finished alongside him in fifth, and remains fifth overall. He will start Saturday’s penultimate stage one minute and 20 seconds behind his teammate but, due to his stronger performance on Friday, could potentially be given equal status and allowed to play his own card.
Nicolas Roche rode well for teammate Porte and then rolled in 16th.
Stage 6, Aubagne to Fayence: 1, Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) 192 kilometres in 4 hours 37 mins 51 secs; 2, S. Henao (Team Sky) at 17 secs; 3, R. Porte (BMC Racing Team) at 26 secs; 4, J. Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) at 29 secs; 5, D. Martin (Quick-Step Floors) same time; 6, J. Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) at 32 secs
Other Irish: 16, N. Roche (BMC Racing Team) at 1 min 41 secs; 76, P. Deignan (Team Sky) at 15 mins 31 secs; 129, S. Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) at 23 mins 28 secs
General classification after stage 6: 1, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors 2) at 21 hours 58 mins 22 secs; 2, T. Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) at 36 secs; 3, S. Henao (Team Sky) at 46 secs; 4, G. Izagirre (Movistar Team) at 57 secs; 5, D. Martin (Quick-Step Floors) at 1 min 20 secs; 6, I. Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin 1 min 31 secs
Other Irish: 19, N. Roche (BMC Racing Team) at 19 mins 26 secs; 39, S. Bennett (Bora-hasgrohe) at 29 mins 15 secs; 118, P. Deignen (Team Sky) at 50 mins 23 secs