Froome, Sky team­mate Landa gain on leader

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Le­ices­ter and Sa­muel Petrequin

FOIX, FRANCE» Af­ter the set­back, the fight back.

One day af­ter los­ing the Tour de France lead to Fabio Aru, Chris Froome and his Team Sky showed Fri­day they still have cards up their sleeves. On the short­est stage of the 104th Tour, bar­ring the two time tri­als, Sky brought Mikel Landa into play — send­ing Froome’s Span­ish team­mate rac­ing off ahead on a fast and fu­ri­ous Stage 13 that be­came part chess, part a test of speed and en­durance over a close-packed suc­ces­sion of three climbs in the Pyre­nees.

End re­sult: Sky has two rid­ers — Froome and Landa — in the over­all top five. From here to the July 23 fin­ish in Paris, Aru will have to watch both like a hawk and not let ei­ther race off ahead of him in or­der to keep the famed yel­low jersey. “It’s per­fect for us,” Froome said. At just 63 miles, less than half the dis­tance of some of this Tour’s long­est stages, the up-down, up-down, up-down route through the Ariege re­gion of moun­tain cheeses and peakperched fortresses de­liv­ered ex­actly what Tour or­ga­niz­ers were hop­ing for: full-on rac­ing.

They even got a cherry on top, with French rider War­ren Bar­guil win­ning the stage on Bastille Day — the first tri­color vic­tory on France’s na­tional hol­i­day since David Mon­coutie in 2005.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble,” said Bar­guil, who has re­cov­ered re­mark­ably quickly from a pelvis frac­ture suf­fered in a crash in April. “I said be­fore the start it would be good if a French­man won. It’s ex­cep­tional.”

The Sun­web team rider sped into the fin­ish in Foix, over­looked by its im­pos­ing 11th-cen­tury cas­tle dec­o­rated with a French tri­color of red, white and blue, as part of a four-man group that in­cluded Landa, two-time Tour cham­pion Al­berto Con­ta­dor and Nairo Quin­tana, a podium fin­isher at three pre­vi­ous Tours.

Con­ta­dor ac­cel­er­ated first in the fi­nal sprint, but Bar­guil re­acted im­me­di­ately and adeptly ne­go­ti­ated the last U-bend on a bridge over the Ariege river, hold­ing off Quin­tana to the line. Con­ta­dor placed third.

Tes­ti­fy­ing to the brevity and re­lent­less rac­ing ac­tion of the stage, Bar­guil cov­ered the dis­tance in just 2½ hours, half the time of longer stages with twice as much road to cover.

By fin­ish­ing fourth in that lead­ing pack that sped in nearly two min­utes ahead of a chas­ing group that in­cluded the Tour’s top four rid­ers over­all — Aru, Froome, French rider Ro­main Bardet and Colom­bian Rigob­erto Uran — Landa clawed back valu­able time in the over­all stand­ings. From sev­enth over­all at the start of the stage, Landa is now fifth, just 1:09 be­hind Aru.

Philippe Lopez, Getty Images

French cy­clist War­ren Bar­guil, wear­ing the best climber’s polka dot jersey, crosses the fin­ish line and wins the 13th stage of the Tour de France — on Bastille Day, the coun­try’s na­tional hol­i­day.

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