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.

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