Barguil delivers Bastille Day win to France; Aru still leads
Warren Barguil delivered a stylish victory to France on Bastille Day, winning a fast and furious truncated Stage 13 where Fabio Aru had to work hard to retain his overall race lead.
Barguil rode into the finish in Foix as part of a four-man group and took the win with a final sprint after adeptly negotiating the last Ubend on a bridge over the Ariege river on Friday.
At 101 kilometres (63 miles), the stage from Saint-Girons was the shortest of the race, barring the two time-trials. With three Pyrenees climbs, it delivered exactly what Tour organizers were hoping for: Full-on racing, with the French victory as the cherry on top.
Part chess-match, part test of speed and climbing strength, Chris Froome and his Team Sky used an array of tactics to try to regain the initiative after he lost the yellow jersey on Thursday to Aru, cracking on a savage final climb.
Sky sent Froome’s teammate, Mikel Landa, racing off ahead on the first climb in a quick succession of three tough ascents. He was joined by fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador, looking to make a splash on what has otherwise has been a lacklustre Tour for the two-time champion.
Together, they built a lead but were caught by Nairo Quintana, a podium finisher at three previous Tours, and by Barguil in the closing section of the last climb. From there, the foursome sped together into Foix, overlooked by its imposing 11th century castle decorated with a French tricolour of red, white and blue. There, Barguil set French hearts alight with the win.
“It’s incredible,” the rider for the Sunweb team said. “I said before the start it would be good if a Frenchman won. It’s exceptional.”
Because of its brevity, Friday’s stage was raced at relentless pace, with riders attacking from the first meters to the last. Barguil covered the distance in 2 ½ hours, half the time of some of the Tour’s longer stages with twice as much road to cover.
Quintana zoomed over the line in second place, failing to catch Barguil with his final sprint, with Contador third. By finishing in that leading pack well ahead of the likes of Aru and Froome, Landa clawed back valuable time in the overall standings, giving Sky an intriguing card to play in coming stages.
From seventh overall at the start of the stage, Landa is fifth, just 1:09 behind Aru. Overall, Aru’s lead on Froome remained unchanged at six seconds. French rider Romain Bardet was third, still 25 seconds behind.