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Froome's failure on final slope sets stage for thrilling Tour finale

14 July 2017

Froome, therefore, had to hand over the yellow race leader's jersey to Aru. "Simple as that. No excuses".

"I didn't have the legs. That's a really hard finish".

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) clinched stage twelve of the Tour de France while Fabio Aru (Astana) took the yellow jersey after Chris Froome's falter. A worn out specialist will lose to an invigorated novice and nothing can be considered a certainty in the final "race of truth".

And we ask how Astana will approach the race now they have the yellow jersey. For hour after hour yesterday (Friday) as the Tour wound its way through the Pyrenees, the Briton's squad had kept the race firmly under control.

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The final climb starts with 35 kilometres to go.

But it never came.

Everything is played in the last 400 meters on the runway at the altiport with the attack of Aru, countered by Bardet. For the first time in what feels like years, Froome was alone and unable to follow. I was unsure. I still made a few mistakes, but this is a good learning curve. "Mikel is very strong and maybe we'll do the same kind of thing in the coming days".

With its mountain top finish, the hugely demanding first stage in the Pyrenees looked like the ideal setting for his Sky Team to stamp its authority on the race, and to help Froome increase his lead in the general classification.

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"It's flawless for us", Froome said. Team Cannondale's Uran and George Bennett (Team Lotto NL-Jumbo) were both handed a time penalty of 20 seconds for receiving a bottle of water from spectators within the final ten kilometers of the stage. But considering he is only 6 seconds being the leader and with an ITT yet to come, Froome remains the firm favourite, as he was on 3 July.

Saturday's Stage 14 features a pair of three-category climbs on a 113-mile road to Rodez that should not be selective.

"I was there with the best guys in the world with 300m to go, I had a small bit of cramp there in the final but I think that's normal with such a long day in the saddle", he said.

Joined in the final stage of Chambéry Sunday last, the French took away his first success since the start, his third in the Tour de France. But after five years of Sky's near-continuous domination in the Tour, suddenly there is no telling whether they will succeed.

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