The puncture came in the final kilometre of the stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux for the UAE Team Emirates rider, hampering the Irishman’s chances of keeping up with the General Classification (GC) contenders as they crossed the line.
However, despite the bad luck, Martin retained his position in the top-10 overall, falling just one place to 10th as he came home 19′ 52” behind Spain’s Astana rider Fraile.
Crucially, despite his bad luck, he was still just under two minutes adrift of yellow jersey occupier Geraint Thomas, as well as Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin, who crossed the line together in 30th, 31st and 32nd places respectively.
Martin, who was 50th, is now 06′ 54” behind Thomas, but has a healthy near three minute gap to Movistar veteran Alejandro Valverde in 11th.
Fraile put in a late attack to take home his first ever Tour victory.
Martin said: “It was the worst moment possible (to get a puncture before the climb). Either side of the road there was a lot of gravel and we were riding on the side of the road, it was a risk and it happened, but there is nothing you can do.
“That’s just the way it is. It was a hard start and everybody knew it was going to go on to the smaller roads and no-one panicked. It was a really strange day.”
Sunday will see riders head for the Pyrenees and the last of the mountain stages as they tackle a 181.5km route from Millau to Carcassone.
Two early categorised climbs could test the peloton and anyone who is feeling the strain of the previous stages may find themselves fighting to stay in contention.
If those two climbs don’t split the peloton then the final one, the Pic de Nore – a 12.3km category one climb with an average gradient of 6.3 per cent – certainly could.
There will be a long descent before riders hit the flat finish in what may be a thrilling end to racing before Monday’s rest day.
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