On the first summit finish of this year’s Tour de France, Fabio Aru replicated his win at the Italian Nationals, moved into the top three on GC and will wear the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Chris Froome showed he’s still the man to beat and grabbed the maillot jaune from teammate Geraint Thomas while Nairo Quintana, Bauke Mollema and Alberto Contador faltered and lost most precious seconds to their rival. Dan Martin, however, displayed attacking panache to finish second on the stage and he jumped from 15th to 4th in the GC. Simon Yates ended the day in the Young Rider jersey while Arnaud Demare stays in green.
Rider of the Race
My rider of the race has to be the man who took the fight to Team Sky ‘to see what they had’ and ended up taking a solo stage win on the first summit finish of this year’s Tour de France in one of the most beautiful national champion’s jerseys in the peloton. Yes, it’s Fabio Aru.
The first summit finish at this year’s Tour de France gave fans something other to talk about than yesterday’s sprint calamity. The fast pace was dictated by the breakaway group, which included some big names like Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, Quickstep’s Philippe Gilbert, Direct Energie’s Thomas Voeckler and Lotto-Soudal’s Thomas De Gendt. But the real action exploded on the slopes of the final climb, La Planche des Belles Filles – I don’t know if the mountain was full of beautiful women as the name suggests but it was certainly full of beautiful cycling today.
The GC hopefuls were ready to pounce and predictions were rife that this climb might not tell who would win the Tour but it might tell who would not win it. When contenders including Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Alberto Contador and Bauke Mollema (both Trek-Segafredo) started to drop, it was the Italian champion Fabio Aru (Astana) who attacked in the last few kilometres and opened up a gap big enough to clinch a solo stage win, jump to 3rd overall and earn the mountain classification jersey.
Aru’s display was all the more impressive considering he cut his GC losses from 52 seconds to a measly 14. He collected valuable mountain points (although that might be a by-product of his ambitions) and climbed from 25th place to 3rd overall. Once the Sardinian rider attacked, he just kept on going – in his gangly style, Fabio worked his socks off not only to keep his rivals at bay but to extend the lead. It resembled his surge a few weeks ago at the Italian National championships, when he earned what is one of the best national jerseys in the peloton. He is clearly on a good form and could very well be a worthy thorn on Froome’s side, taking the fight to Team Sky.
I’m amazed. I attacked and gave it everything. I wanted to see who would move because Team Sky was setting a fast pace. I wanted to see what they had. The final 300 metres were terrible but then when I looked back with 200 metres to go and I knew I had it.
Meanwhile, these cows decided to re-enact the infamous sprint from stage 4. To our knowledge, none of them have been sent home and all are ready to sprint again tomorrow.
Top 5 stage
1 Fabio Aru (Astana) 03:44:06
2 Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors) +0:16
3 Chris Froome (Sky) +0:20
4 Richie Porte (BMC) s/t
5 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:24
Top 5 GC
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 18:38:59
2 Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0:12
3 Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:14
4 Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors) +0:25
5 Richie Porte (BMC) +0:39
All the jerseys
Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points: Arnaud Demare (FDJ)
KOM: Fabio Aru (Astana)
Best Young Rider: Simon Yates (ORICA-Scott)
Team Classification: Sky
Most Aggressive Rider: Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors)
Header image: Fabio Aru, ©GETTY / Chris Graythen