Sport

Bardet and Aru strike Froome blow

Bardet and Aru strike Froome blow”

Aru collected bonus seconds for his placing and now leads Froome by six seconds in the general classification. Martin moved up to fifth in the GC at the expense of Aru's Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang, who struggled one day after fracturing bones in both his elbow and wrist following a crash in the previous stage.

Froome zig-zagged his bike across the tarmac as he tried to cope with a gradient so steep that it seemed to glue his wheels to the road.

"I dedicate this jersey to my teammates, who have been doing everything to help me", said Aru.

The final of the six ascents on the menu of the 214.5km stage between Pau and the ski station was too hard for Froome, who had worn the yellow jersey over the previous seven stages.

Bardet won the exhausting battle on Thursday in five hours, 49 minutes, 38 seconds, just two ticks ahead of Aru and Colombian Rigoberto Uran.

Marcel Kittel
Marcel Kittel

With his Team Sky team-mates peeling off the front, Froome appeared certain to attack in the closing kilometres.

Aru was third, also two seconds behind Bardet, while Froome cracked and ended up 22 seconds adrift of the Frenchman.

"The pace was very high all day long, but just in the last meters, I saw Froome was in trouble and I just try to go to the line as soon as possible", Bardet said. But Cummings didn't have the legs on the first category Col de Peyresourde and was caught with 8.6km left.

"The number one priority for us is to not allow anyone to come back into the general classification game if they've already lost some time", the Team Sky rider said. But missing from the list of guilty parties was stage victor Bardet, despite video suggesting he grabbed a drink at exactly the same time as New Zealander George Bennett - who was hit by the race jury.

And as it proved, the three riders closest to Froome at the start of the day, were the strongest at the end too - stronger even than the Briton.

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