Froome, Sky team re­cover yel­low jer­sey

Aru lacks team­mates to help

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

RODEZ, FRANCE» There is only one thing cer­tain at the Tour de France: Noth­ing is cer­tain.

Fol­low­ing two fre­netic days of racing in the Pyre­nees, no one would have bet a cent on a change of lead­er­ship Satur­day af­ter Stage 14, a rolling 113-mile ride with no ma­jor dif­fi­culty.

But a short and steep climb to the fin­ish in the south­ern town of Rodez was enough for Great Bri­tain’s Chris Froome and his mighty Sky team to re­cover the yel­low jer­sey they lost two days be­fore in the moun­tains.

The day’s big loser was Fabio Aru, the As­tana leader, who cracked in the last 500 me­ters and re­lin­quished the cov­eted tu­nic to the three-time cham­pion.

While the Team Sky train hit the front in the tech­ni­cal and twist­ing fi­nal kilo­me­ters at high speed, Aru was at the back and didn’t come back be­fore the pelo­ton split in the climb. He lost touch with the lead­ers in the sharp as­cent of the Cote de Saint Pierre and crossed the line 25 sec­onds be­hind stage win­ner Michael Matthews.

Froome was well po­si­tioned and had no prob­lem tack­ling the fi­nal climb. He fin­ished hot on the heels of Matthews.

“It’s a beautiful sur­prise to­day,” said Froome, who lost his jer­sey af­ter en­dur­ing a bad day on the road to the ski sta­tion of Peyragudes.

As­tana team di­rec­tor Dmit­ryi Fo­fonov said Aru sim­ply paid for his ef­forts in the pre­vi­ous days.

“He was on his own, iso­lated,” Fo­fonov said. “We had cross­winds the whole day, we needed to be up front all the time to avoid the splits. Then the fin­ish was ex­plo­sive, with sprint­ers climb­ing very fast. Not Fabio’s fa­vorite ground. To­day we lost a battle, but not the war.”

Froome, who had a sixsec­ond deficit at the start of the stage, is en­joy­ing an 18sec­ond ad­van­tage over Aru, who is pay­ing for the weak­ness of his As­tana team.

The Kaza­khstan-funded team lost key mem­ber Jakob Fuglsang on Fri­day, when he broke a wrist and el­bow, and Aru did not have enough team­mates to help him stay at the front.

Bryn Len­non, Getty Im­ages

Chris Froome and Team Sky re­gained the yel­low jer­sey in Stage 14 on Satur­day.

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