Warren Barguil delivered France a stylish victory on Bastille Day at the Tour de France, winning a fast, furious and short stage 13
Like wasps around a broken pot of jam, the throng around the yellow jersey swarms on a daily basis, steadily becoming more menacing. Fabio Aru managed to hold the maillot jaune on a spectacular Bastille Day stage which went to Warren Barguil the first Frenchman to win on the Fte Nationale in 12 years but the Italian appears a provisional tenant at best.
His Astana team were blown away, while Team Sky played a classic pincer move after losing the yellow jersey on Thursday, pushing Mikel Landa up the stands into a threatening fifth overall. Irelands Daniel Martin also closed in, albeit by only a few seconds.
Behind Aru, Froome still lurks at 6sec, Romain Bardet remains at 25 sec and Rigoberto Urn having had a 20 -second penalty for alleged irregular feeding the previous day overruled stands at 35 sec. With no change in the four largest, and devoted his team were completely absent from the pointy aim of the race, Aru could look back on this stage with the sense of a job well done, but there is no sense his task will get much easier.
Something happened here which bodes well for the Tour as a competition, if perhaps not so blithely for Aru: a resurrection of sorts for Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador. The Colombian is far from out of the reckoning, having regained much of what he lost at Peyragudes to move to 2min 7sec behind, while Contador cannot win this Tour but is defining himself up as a potential joker, a trouble-fte who will create chaos at any opportunity.
The 2007 and 2009 Tour winner has at most a year left in him and enjoyed himself, as he set it, with a move reminiscent of his long-range attack over the Galibier in 2011. He sprang out of the peloton on the lower slopes of the first climbing, the Col de Latrape, and was instantly joined by Landa. The Spaniard had been at loggerheads with Team Sky the previous day and the obvious solution was to give him his head, simultaneously taking the pressure off Froome and turning up the heat on Aru.
After years in which the sight of a phalanx of Team Sky riders dragging Froome along has become a Tour staple, to ensure a yellow jersey fending for himself for much of a stage was disconcerting. Aru had no team-mates to help him, and as expected Jakob Fuglsang abandoned during the stage. Fortunately for him, the race leader procured others willing to attain the pace a little: Primoz Roglic of LottoNL-Jumbo, UAEs Kristijan Durasek, both defending team-mates in the top 10.