Bardet - Froome Should Be Respected

As a result the QuickStep Floors rider overtook Mikel Landa (Team Sky) for fifth place, and also narrowed the gap to those in front. With 31km from the finish, this climb will probably determine the stage victor.

Helped first by teammates Mikel Nieve and then by Mikel Landa, and booed by some spectators as he labored past them, Froome worked furiously on the climb to reel in Bardet's group. He finished hot on the heels of Matthews.

While Bardet and Aru could well lose around a minute to Froome in Saturday's 22-km solo effort in Marseille, Uran fares better riding against the clock. Not without irony, Aru was the major beneficiary of Froome's failure to cope with a brutal finish to stage 12 from Pau to Peyragudes.

The Sunweb team rider sped into the finish in Foix, overlooked by its imposing 11th century castle decorated with a French tricolor of red, white and blue, as part of a four-man group that included Landa, two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador, and Nairo Quintana, a podium finisher at three previous Tours.

"He was on his own, isolated", Fofonov said. Not Fabio's favorite ground.

AG2R leader Bardet was runner-up to Froome last year and this year sits just 23 seconds behind the Sky team leader in third place.

"I just gave it a try in the last 30km". Rigoberto looks for an opportunity also, just 29 seconds behind. Froome who has until now has avoided any hostility from the Tour crowd, said he understood: "This is Romain Bardet's home stage I think that it's to be expected the support for him". He thanked his teammates for their essential role in keeping him at the front, allowing him to pounce on the final climb while Aru was stuck. I needed a chance, but a lot of teams wanted to go up the road today.

"It's still so close in the top five there, anyone within a minute is a potential threat", added Froome.

The reigning champion has just signed a new two-year contract that keeps him at Team Sky until 2020, a show of commitment, he says, after a hard time for the racing outfit following a UK Anti-Doping investigation. "There were attacks, people tried to attack me several times but I responded every time".

Froome has never faced such a close battle at this stage of the race. But Cilic netted a return, beginning a run of 17 points in a row won by Federer on his serve. He had a lead of 1:47 after Stage 14 in 2016, of 3:10 in 2015 and 2:28 in 2013.

Martin rode well on the day's climbs on the 189.5 kilometre stage to Le-Puy-en-Vale and, as he did two days ago, launched a strong attack inside the last few kilometres. He had no challengers at the finish as he rode across the line alone to complete the victory.

Cilic said afterward he developed a painful blister on his left foot during his semifinal Friday, and that affected his ability to move properly or summon the intimidating serves that carried him to his lone Grand Slam title at the 2014 U.S. Open, where he surprisingly beat Federer in straight sets in the semifinals. But Sky promised they won't be caught off guard.

The defending champion came seventh, one second behind stage victor Michael Matthews of Australia as Aru, who started the day with the yellow jersey on his shoulders, lost 25 seconds to the Briton in the final effort, a 600-metre climb at an average gradient of 9.6 per cent.

"He won't do it again", Rowe said.

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