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Tour de France - stage 12: Bardet victor, Aru yellow

14 Juillet 2017

Sky stepped up the tempo in the first really hard ascent, the Col de Mente, where Spanish great Luis Ocana crashed out in a downhill section in 1971 while wearing the yellow jersey.

Team Sky will not become the first team since Eddy Merckx's Faema to keep the yellow jersey throughout the race after Froome surrendered the overall lead to Italian Fabio Aru. I can only say congratulations to Romain Bardet for winning the stage and also to Fabio Aru for taking the yellow jersey.

It is the second time in his career that Froome has lost the yellow jersey mid-race, having lost it after stage four in 2015. Yes, it is not a summit finish today; which seems insane as the final climb of the Mur de Peguere is absolutely brutal.

'It was very, very tough at the finish, ' he said.

Astana won the Tour de France with Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 after Froome abandoned due to crashes. Cummings fought courageously, but with 8.5 km to go he was caught by the chasing group of general classification favorites.

Chris Froome's failure to hang on in the final stretch of Thursday's 12th stage of the Tour de France has set the stage for a nail-biting finale, as his main rivals have sensed a weakness in the defending champion.

Britain's Chris Froome during the Tour de France's 12th stage. There is an aura of invincibility and an air of inevitability around a Froome win, but should that really be the case coming into the crucial stages of the Tour?

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

Stage 13 may be short, but it is still relentless with three first category climbs; the Col de Latrape followed by the Col d'Agnes and finally the Mur de Peguere.

In fact, had they known Froome was in less-than-perfect form, they might have done so earlier on Stage 12. Froome and Bardet are the strongest, we have to take advantage of them.

"The year started pretty bad for me with glandular fever".

"Calculating quickly, I thought the yellow jersey was mine and I felt a formidable emotion when I got confirmation of it".

"Today confirms for me that I can ride with these guys", Bennett told "I had good legs but I was patient", said AG2R-La Mondiale rider Bardet. The day of big celebrations across the country will offer Frenchmen the opportunity to enjoy riders as they compete on a 101 kilometer route from Saint-Girons to Foix.

Tour de France - stage 12: Bardet victor, Aru yellow