Aru’s gam­ble yields stage win

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LA PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES, France: Fabio Aru claimed his maiden Tour de France win yes­ter­day, as de­fend­ing cham­pion Chris Froome snatched the yel­low jer­sey he in­tends to wear all the way back to Paris. Ital­ian cham­pion Aru launched a blis­ter­ing at­tack in the fi­nal stretches of the fifth stage, jump­ing away from the lead­ing group with 2.3km of the 5.9km climb left. The 2015 Vuelta cham­pion of the As­tana team be­came the third win­ner at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, where Team Sky’s Froome came to promi­nence in 2012 and Italy’s Vin­cenzo Nibali pre­vailed in 2014 when he won the Tour. “I had seen a video of Nibali’s win and I tried to do the same to see what would hap­pen,” said the 27-yearold Aru. “I wanted to test my ri­vals, I did not have the stage win in mind but ob­vi­ously it’s a great day.” Ire­land’s Dan Martin took sec­ond place, 16 sec­onds be­hind, while Froome was 20 sec­onds off the pace in third, with his ri­val Richie Porte in his tracks. An­other top con­tender, last year’s run­ner-up Ro­main Bardet, took fifth place, a fur­ther four sec­onds be­hind. “When Aru went, I still had team­mates (to do the work) so I waited for the oth­ers to re­act. No­body moved so I thought I had to go to see what I could do,” said Froome. Colom­bian Nairo Quin­tana, tipped as one of Froome’s main chal­lengers, fin­ish ninth, 36 sec­onds back. Froome took the yel­low jer­sey from team­mate Geraint Thomas, who could not sus­tain the pace on the climb’s steep­est parts. Over­all, three-time cham­pion Froome leads Thomas by 12 sec­onds with Aru in third a fur­ther two sec­onds be­hind. He be­lieves he can de­fend his lead un­til the last day in Paris. No team has kept the yel­low jer­sey from day one all the way to the fin­ish of the three-week race since Eddy Mer­ckx’s Faemimo-Faema held it through­out. “I’m used to be­ing in that po­si­tion,” he warned. — Reuters

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