Aru wins fifth stage, Froome grabs lead in Tour de France
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - Thu, Jul 6th 2017 12:00 AM
Aru wins fifth stage, Froome grabs lead in Tour de France
PLANCHER-LES-MINES, France: Fabio Aru emulated compatriot Vincenzo Nibali in winning the fifth stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday as reigning champion Chris Froome took over the race lead.
Italian Aru won the 160.5km stage that finished on the La Planche des Belles Filles climb, where Nibali won three years ago before going on to claim Tour victory.
Froome came home third behind Ireland’s Dan Martin in second, and took over the yellow jersey from Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas.
Aru launced his attack with 2.4km left and finished 16 seconds clear of Martin. With a 10-second time bonus on the line, he moved up to third overall, at just 14 seconds behind Froome.
But more importantly, the 2015 Vuelta a Espana winner made a statement that he is a genuine challenger to end Froome’s Tour reign.
Having previously won stages at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta, this completed a Grand Tour stage sweep for Aru.
“First of all I’m going to enjoy this moment because I had a great spring and won the Italian title but before that I had a tough time,” said Aru, who had to pull out of May’s Giro due to injury.
“It’s a difficult race and the opposition is very tough. I’d prefer to take it day by day because I didn’t expect to compete at the Tour.
“My goal was the Giro but unfortunately I was injured.”
Briton Froome came home 20 seconds behind the winner, with Australia’s Richie Porte just behind him, but Colombian Nairo Quintana struggled and lost 14 seconds to Froome.
“It’s amazing for me to be back in yellow but having said that the race is far from over,” warned Froome.
“(Aru) showed already in the (Criterium du) Dauphine he was in great form, today he just confirmed that.
“Fabio’s going to have to be one of the guys we keep an eye on in the next couple of weeks.”
Last year’s runner up, Romain Bardet, came home fifth at 24sec behind Aru, to now sit seventh overall at 47sec.
Thomas, who started the day 12 seconds clear, dropped to second at 12sec behind his team leader.
But at the end of the first mountain summit finish of this year’s race, the overall standings took on a familiar look as the overall contenders flexed their muscles for the first time.
The top 10 are now separated by one minute with all the big guns in there, including two-time former winner Alberto Contador, now eighth at 52sec.
Porte moved up to fifth at 39sec, with Quintana ninth at 54sec.
Meantime, world champion Peter Sagan accepted defeat on Wednesday in his bid to have his Tour de France disqualification overturned.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday morning, Sagan said he did not agree with the sanction but had accepted it.
The 27-year-old Slovak was kicked off the Tour on Tuesday for having elbowed Mark Cavendish into the metal barriers during the sprint finish to the Tour’s fourth stage.
Cavendish crashed hard and was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken shoulder blade, ending his own Tour participation.
“I can only accept the decision of the jury, but I disagree. I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong in the sprint,” said Sagan, who was reading a statement.
The Tour’s race commission disagreed, though, and had disqualified him for having “endangered some of his colleagues seriously.”
Cavendish had questioned not why Sagan swerved toward him during the sprint finish, but why he had jutted out an elbow, sending the Briton into the railings.
“I was a little bit confused with the elbow, that’s something I’d like to speak to him about,” said the 32-year-old winner of 30 Tour stages.
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