Chris Froome cracks as Fabio Aru blows Tour de France wide open

La Mondiale rider Romain Bardet of France sprints towards the line to win the stage. Reuters

La Mondiale rider Romain Bardet of France sprints towards the line to win the stage. Reuters

The Sardinian ace came third and is now six seconds ahead of ex leader and three-time victor Chris Froome of Britain.

Chris Froome says there are no excuses for losing the yellow jersey on Stage 12 - he simply didn't have the legs at the finish. Aru surged past Froome on the final climb in the Tour's first Pyrenean visit.

Aru, victor of the Vuelta a Espana in 2015, now leads the GC by six seconds from Froome, with Bardet 25 seconds off the lead in third. Rigoberto Uran, another potential victor in Paris, was second while Froome finished seventh.

The new leader is 27-year-old Italian rider Fabio Aru, who started Thursday's stage 18 seconds behind Froome.

"I didn't have the legs".

Then on Friday there is the short but potentially explosive 100km stage from Saint-Girons to Foix, which looks similar in profile to the stage in last year's Vuelta a Espana where Froome's bid for victory was effectively ended by canny attacks from his rivals that caught Sky napping. "The race is certainly on now". "They don't like to lose and they will be out for revenge", said Bardet, who is looking to become the first Frenchman to win the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985.

"I'm feeling very, very happy for sure", he said.

"I did my best but I didn't have the legs to follow".

"It's one of the best things that can happen in life to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France", said a beaming Aru. This jersey is an undescribable emotion, the maximum for a rider. Martin's fine showing on Thursday's stage saw him move up one place to fifth overall, 1:41 off the lead. "Clearly, it won't be easy to defend it. Tomorrow is another very hard stage and though I'm here for stage wins I'm here for the overall too, so we have to stay focused".

On a day where British cycling fans remembered the 50th anniversary of the death of Tom Simpson on the Mont Ventoux, National Champion Steve Cummings was the unsung hero of the day, making a breakaway of over 180 kilometres that only collapsed on the slopes of the Peyresourde, the second last climb.

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