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Tour de France: Fabio Aru cranks it up to take stage 5

Fabio Aru’s valiant attack pays off as Chris Froome moves into yellow

As the dust settled on Peter Sagan’s disqualification the riders focussed on the task ahead, a 160KM stage with a cheeky summit finish. This was an opportunity for the GC contenders to stamp their authority on the race and demonstrate to their rivals that they meant business. Who would have thought that Fabio Aru would come up trumps? Stage five didn’t disappoint, it was another fascinating stage on the Tour de France.

Popular French rider Tommy Voeckler was joined by some capable riders to form a seemingly formidable breakaway and included; Philippe Gilbert, Thomas De Gendt, Jan Bakelants, Dylan Van Baarle, Mickaël Delage, Pierre-Luc Périchon and Ed Boasson Hagen. Team Sky and BMC were content to let them go, maintaining a gap of around 2’30”. Boasson Hagen took up the mantle to earn himself 20 points in the intermediate sprint.

BMC had set a pretty high tempo earlier on in the stage, but the real action came with around 5KM to go. The sting in the tail was the climb towards La planche des belles filles. Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski notched it up to set a relentless pace and as a result the peloton began to crack, riders were dropped all over the place.

With 3Km to go a number of big names were dropped including Geraint Thomas and Nairo Quintana. Kwiatkowski had done his job and dropped off the pace leaving Sky with three riders, including leader Chris Froome. From nowhere Aru got out of the saddle to make a very brave and timely attack. Froome, Richie Porte, Romain Bardet and Dan Martin couldn’t hold his wheel. Aru’s attack was brutal, he couldn’t stop smiling as he rode home to claim a well deserved victory. Porte subsequently tried to take time out of Froome but his attempt failed.

 Fabio Aru is a real threat
 Thomas hands the yellow jersey to Froome, meaning that the Team Sky pair occupy a one-two in the GC standings. Many will be asking the question as to whether or not Sky are able to defend the yellow jersey for another 16 stages. It’s familiar territory for Team Sky but Aru’s victory will give them something to seriously consider for the remained of the tour.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be back in yellow. Having said that I know the race is far from over. It’s only just begun for me.

“I think as a team we’re in a great position, first and second. We can take confidence away from that and I think it gives us options going forward in terms of being able to play both cards.

“Today went really well. The team did a great job, keeping me out of trouble and then setting that pace on the final climb. If anything we made a little mistake in the final giving Aru that much space to go. But with it being flat before that final kick, I think no one really wanted to be left pulling at that point. via

“[Aru] showed already at the Dauphine he’s in great form and today just confirmed that.”

Looking ahead
What of Quintana and Alberto Contador? They sit 54 and 52 seconds respectively behind Froome in the GC? Neither Quintana or Contador looked like making a challenge on the final climb. Alejandro Valverde’s withdrawal shouldn’t provide an excuse for Quintana. Is the Colombian out of shape or just waiting for his time? Today’s stage was arguably a snapshot of what kind of shape the climbers are in.
Stage Result
General classification

Stage 6  is another long day for the riders. It takes them from Vesoul / Troyes with two category four climbs and a flat finish. It’s set up for the sprinters. Let’s just hope that the scenes of stage four are not repeated.

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