Louis Meintjes our Tour de France Hero - Stage 12

Rufina Vignone
Luglio 15, 2017

Although Froome could not follow Bardet, Aru and others in the final 200 metres, where the gradient rose to nearly 20 percent, the Briton remains in contention and with a final time trial that will favour him in the penultimate stage.

The top four in the general classification had crossed the line together in the third group on the road, keeping Aru six seconds clear of Froome, with Frenchman Romain Bardet of AG2R La Mondiale 25 seconds down in third and Colombian Rigoberto Uran of Cannondale-Drapac fourth at 35 seconds.

"It's not the end of the world", said Team Sky sports director Nicolas Portal, who saw some positives in Froome losing the yellow jersey.

Not only did Aru strip Froome of the yellow jersey but the top of the standings closed up with Frenchman Bardet now third at just 25sec.

Simon Yates pulls on the white jersey for best young rider after stage 13 from Saint-Girons to Foix on Friday.

It was estimated that Stage 13 was the shortest included in the Tour since 1989 and it also delighted French fans, who celebrated a patriotic win with Warren Barguil (Sunweb) on Bastille Day.

"Yesterday was a hard day for me but today I felt a lot better and we played a lot with our team", said Froome.

"If you look at the other Tours (Froome won), he always won the first stage in the Pyrenees", said the Kazakh, a former victor of the Vuelta when a rider, although he later served a doping suspension.

"It was certainly a tough day for me at the end", said Froome.

"My teammates did such an incredible job", Froome said. Overall, Froome is a mere six seconds behind Aru and bookmakers remain confident that the British cyclist will triumph.

"We defend a lot in races so we know what we don't like". Now that Froome has shown signs of weakness, the attacks could come right from the start as his rivals look to build on the momentum. And now with Chris having his off day yesterday [stage 12] maybe more guys think they can win the Tour. "I put my efforts towards Sunday's stage this week, so it has come a little bit early" - Bardet may have surprised himself with the stage win.

He navigated the sprint brilliantly, going wide around a tight final turn and surging ahead of a worn out trio. "Mikel Landa (Spain / Team Sky) +5" 5. The twisting and punishing Port de Bales, a narrow, 11.7-kilometer climb at an average gradient of 7.7 percent - rated as "beyond a category" because of its difficulty - took a heavy toll on the lead riders.

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