Chris Froome survived a dramatic ninth stage of the Tour de France to retain the yellow jersey as Ireland's Dan Martin sprinted to an historic victory.

Martin (Garmin-Sharp) broke away alongside Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) on the last of the day's five climbs and went on to become only the fifth Irishman to win a Tour stage.

Team Sky's Froome kept hold of the race lead, but only after coming under intense pressure right from the first kilometre of punishing and action-packed stage in the Pyrenees.

Early attacks on the day's first climb set a frantic pace in the peloton that saw hordes of riders dropped, including all of Froome's Team Sky team-mates except Richie Porte.

But then Porte also fell away when Movistar moved to the front of the main bunch on the second climb, the category-one Col de Mente, leaving Froome to see out the remaining 125km on his own.

Porte falls away

Groups were scattered all over the road and it was only after a five-man breakaway was finally formed that the stage settled down.

Movistar kept the pressure on over the Col de Peyresourde and Col de Val Louron Azet, and it looked inevitable that they would bombard Froome with attacks on the final climb of La Hourquette d'Ancizan.

But other than a series of four short, sharp bursts from Nairo Quintana, all of which Froome chased down, the Spanish team failed to endanger the Briton's overall lead.

Martin and Fuglsang also attacked, 35km out, and were allowed to open up a gap of 46 seconds going over the summit and on to the 30km descent to the finish line.

Belkin started chasing the duo and cut the lead to under 30 seconds, but when other teams refused to help out, the advantage plateaued and Martin and Fuglsang were left to battle for the stage win between them.

Martin makes history

Birmingham-born Martin moved ahead going into the final corner, 150m out, and then sprinted into Irish cycling history, joining Seamus Elliott, Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and Martin Earley as the country's only Tour stage winners.

The main bunch followed 20 seconds later, with Froome, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Cadel Evans (BMC) all present.

However, Porte, who had been second on the general classification, continued to hemorrhage time after being dropped and eventually crossed the line almost 18 minutes down.

There was more bad news for Team Sky, when Vasil Kiryienka failed to reach the finish before the time limit and was consequently eliminated from the race.

Stage nine result

1 Daniel Martin (Ire) Garmin-Sharp, 4:43:03
2 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, st
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +20sec
4 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha, st
5 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, st
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, st
7 Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, st
8 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, st
9 Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, st
10 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Leopard
Selected others
13 Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff, st
14 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st

General classification

1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 36:59:18
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +1:25
3 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +1:44
4 Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Belkin, +1:50
5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff, +1:51
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff, same time
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +2:02
8 Daniel Martin (Ire) Garmin-Sharp, +2:28
9 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +2:31
10 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar, +2:45

Other jerseys

- Green (points classification): Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
- Polka dot (mountains classification): Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar
- White (best young rider): Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar