Astana Proteam rider Fabio Aru became the leader of the G.C. in the 2017 Tour de France and for the first time in his career took the yellow jersey after finish of stage 12 in Peyragudes.
The Italian champion finished third behind stage winner Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Colombian rider Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), who took second. Previous race leader Chris Froome lost 20 seconds to Aru and with the bonifications at the finish it was enough for Astana rider to take over the yellow jersey.
“It is impossible to describe my emotions and feelings,” explained Aru. “For every rider, it is a dream to wear the yellow jersey. In my career, I was wearing the pink jersey of the Giro and the red jersey of the Vuelta. So, I’ve missed just the yellow and today I’ve got it! I am super happy!
“Honestly, it was a very tough stage, (and) the weather (made) it even harder,” Aru added. “I want to thank my team, who supported me and kept me in front the whole day. The last climb was very fast and steep. I attacked with more or less 350 meters to go and gave my all for a maximal result. I congratulate Romain Bardet with a nice victory. But for me it is a great trophy to get this yellow jersey. Unfortunately, yesterday Dario Cataldo was forced to quit the race after the crash. Also, Jakob Fuglsang had a terrible day today – he rode with an injury. So, I want to dedicate this yellow jersey to them and also to the entire team, who was close to me in these days.”
Aru now leads the general classification by 6 seconds over Froome. Bardet is third, 25 seconds behind.
“There are a lot of important stages still ahead here at the Tour de France and already tomorrow we will have a short but difficult stage in the Pyrenees, which can change a lot,” Aru went on to say. “I think we have a strong team and despite yesterday crashes we are ready to continue our fight at the Tour. We will move here step by step, stage by stage.
It was a really hard day for another Astana leader Jakob Fuglsang. Due to his injury, he had to step down from the leading group on the Port de Balés and to continue with his own rhythm. At the finish, he lost over 27 minutes to the stage winner.
“I am fully empty,” said Jakob Fuglsang. “The first part I tried to follow the others, but later it was just too much for me – my injury and its consequences did not allow me to continue the fight in the overall classification. A very tough day for me. But, tomorrow I want to start again. Will see how it will be.”
Bardet ready to fight for yellow
“I am very happy. I had the heart to raise my arms in victory in the Tour this year, and now that I have done that, I will be able to continue to fight for the general classification,” said Bardet. “I expected Froome to attack at the foot of the last climb. I knew that it would play out like that. Then, when I saw Dan Martin attack, I gave it everything.
“It’s a stage that I know well,” Bardet added. “I had reconnoitered it entirely in May. It was still gravel…I was the first to be able to ride it when it was paved. The local people there told me that that would bring me good luck…standing on the podium, I had to think of that again. It was a nice way to conclude the story.
Today’s victory is a collective victory for the team,” he concluded. “We are a great team, ready to fight for the yellow jersey. In the overall, four riders are very close together still. I hope to finish strong, though. I have no plan for a rerun of today. We’ll take each stage day by day, but why not try to play my game again when we are in the mountains.”
Froome: “The race is on”
Speaking in the immediate aftermath Froome was honest in his assessment of the finale and quick to praise his rivals.
“It was certainly a tough day for me in the final,” he said. “My team-mates did such an amazing job today, but I didn’t have the legs at the end to finish it off. Simple as that. No excuses. I just didn’t have the legs on the final kick.
“It was brutal – ramps of over 20%. That’s a really, really hard finish. I can only say congratulations to Romain Bardet for winning the stage and Fabio Aru for taking the yellow jersey. The race is certainly on now.”
Stage 12 Brief Results:
- Romain Bardet (France / AG2R La Mondiale) 5:49:38″
- Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Cannondale-Drapac) +2″
- Fabio Aru (Italy / Astana Pro Team)
- Mikel Landa (Spain / Team Sky) +5″
- Louis Meintjes (South Africa / UAE Team Emirates) +7″
- Daniel Martin (Ireland / Quick-Step Floors) +13″
- Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) +22″
- George Bennett (New Zealand / LottoNL-Jumbo) +27″
- Simon Yates (Britain / Orica-Scott)
- Mikel Nieve (Spain / Team Sky) +1:28″
General Classification After Stage 12:
- Fabio Aru (Italy / Astana Pro Team) 52:51:49″
- Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) +6″
- Romain Bardet (France / AG2R La Mondiale) +25″
- Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Cannondale-Drapac) +55″
- Daniel Martin (Ireland / Quick-Step Floors) +1:41″
- Simon Yates (Britain / Orica-Scott) +2:13″
- Mikel Landa (Spain / Team Sky) +2:55″
- Nairo Quintana (Colombia / Movistar Team) +4:01″
- George Bennett (New Zealand / LottoNL-Jumbo) +4:24″
- Louis Meintjes (South Africa / UAE Team Emirates) +4:51″