The weakness of Fabio Arus Astana team cost the Italian the yellow jersey on Saturday, permitting Chris Froome to regain the Tour de France lead
The weakness of Fabio Arus Astana team cost the Italian the yellow jersey here on Saturday, allowing Chris Froome to regain the race leading. When the remnants of the peloton fractured in the final 500 metres Aru was poorly placed at the back of the group and, while Froome finished seventh behind the stage win, Michael Matthews of Australia, the Italian lost 25 sec in the final 500 m to concede the race lead by 19 sec.
If youd said to me this morning I would take 25 sec from Aru on this finish, I wouldnt have believed you, Froome said. We knew the finish would be selective but I didnt expect to be taking these margins off some of the challengers. It was very technical; it was important to be at the front. I didnt know where Fabio was but my team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski was hollering at me to go because there were big gaps everywhere.
The Sky leader also gained a handful of seconds on contenders such as Romain Bardet, Simon Yates and Nairo Quintana, as well as on his team-mate Mikel Landa. The overall standings remain finely poised, with 29 sec separating the first four of Froome, Aru, Bardet and Rigoberto Uran.
It was important to come to the climb without having made any big endeavors; it was a very technical finish with lots of road furniture, it was important to be at the front taking perfect lines, Froome added. Its still so close at the top. I have to regard all of the riders within a minute as a threat. At this phase we are fighting for every second.
Astana are without their two strongest riders in the crash victims Dario Cataldo and Jakob Fuglsang and had been conspicuous by their absence during Fridays Pyrenean stage, when Aru was left to fend for himself for 80 kilometres. As the peloton descended into Rodez the yellow jersey was at the back of the string, whereas Froome was prominent at the front; Aru had not a single team-mate close by to help him regain position at the front and had to close gaps on his own as the race split.
With vital energy burned up it was virtually inevitable that he would relinquish the race leading. This might not have been entirely a bad thing for the Italian, given that Astanas game plan hangs on being able to base their race on Froome, so his team administrator Giuseppe Martinelli told The Observer . If Sky ride only for Froome and keep Landa back, thats good for us; we can base our race on Froome. If they keep two plates spinning Froome and Landa it gets complicated, Martinelli said.
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