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

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

Froome leads by 18 seconds from Italian Aru, and is determined to make sure there are no time losses in the Pyrenees over the coming days.

Aru's team-mate Jakob Fuglsang, who sits fifth overall in the general classification, suffered fractures in his hand and elbow in a crash which ended the race of key domestique Dario Cataldo. Froome tried to respond but didn't have the legs to follow - yet Bardet did.

"I can only say congratulations to Romian Bardet for winning the stage and to Fabio Aru for taking the yellow jersey".

Three-time Tour victor Froome faded badly on the brutal final climb of the 214.5 kilometre stage from Pau while Aru finished third to take the final bonus seconds on offer. "But Bardet, (Colombia's Rigoberto) Uran and Aru are all very close". Rigoberto Uran, another potential victor in Paris, was second while Froome finished seventh. "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.

"The pace was very high all day long, but just in the last meters, I saw Froome was in trouble and I just try to go to the line as soon as possible", Bardet said. Quintana and Contador both conceded more than two minutes.

With his Team Sky team-mates peeling off the front, Froome appeared certain to attack in the closing kilometres. A 12-man breakaway was allowed a lead of more than six minutes at one stage and by the time they reached the top of the Porte de Bales hors category climb 40km from the finish, Briton Stephen Cummings was on his own with a lead of around a minute and half from the Sky led peloton. But missing from the list of guilty parties was stage victor Bardet, despite video suggesting he grabbed a drink at exactly the same time as New Zealander George Bennett - who was hit by the race jury. He couldn't and neither could Ireland's Dan Martin, but Bardet and Uran showed their strength.

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