Chris Froome wrestled the yellow jersey away from Fabio Aru on the steep finish to stage 14 at Rodez as the Australian Michael Matthews held off Greg van Avermaet to win by a couple of bike lengths.
The three-time Tour winner Froome kept Aru in sight throughout the day’s stage until the final 500m climb, when the Team Sky rider shook off the Italian with a burst of acceleration, following those in the hunt for a stage win to finish seventh, 24 seconds ahead of the Astana rider.
The Irishman Dan Martin and Rigoberto Uran were with Froome at the line to strengthen their places in the overall top 10 while others lost pockets of time. Uran sits fourth, 29 seconds down, with Froome’s Team Sky colleague Mikel Landa 77 seconds off the pace in fifth place.
Martin once again defied the back problems he has been suffering since a crash on the Mont du Chat last week with a fine ride, and is now only 86 seconds off yellow in sixth place. Bury’s Simon Yates retains the white jersey as the best young rider, seventh overall and two minutes and two seconds behind Froome.
There was an early breakaway of five riders but they were never allowed to build a gap greater than three minutes and Thomas Voeckler, Timo Roosen, Maxime Bouet and Reto Hollenstein were absorbed around 25km from the finish line, with Thomas De Gendt named the stage’s most aggressive rider for gamely holding off the yellow jersey group until 12km from Rodez.
William Fotheringham’s report to follow …
Stage 14 results
1. Michael Matthews (Australia / Team Sunweb) 4:21:56” 2. Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium / BMC Racing Team) ST 3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway / Team Dimension Data) +1” 4. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium / Quick-Step Floors) 5. Jay McCarthy (Australia / BORA-hansgrohe) 6. Sonny Colbrelli (Italy / Bahrain-Merida) 7. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) 8. Daniel Martin (Ireland / Quick-Step Floors) 9. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Cannondale-Drapac) 10. Tiesj Benoot (Belgium / Lotto-Soudal) +5”
1. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) 59:52:09” 2. Fabio Aru (Italy / Astana Pro Team) +19” 3. Romain Bardet (France / AG2R La Mondiale) +23” 4. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Cannondale-Drapac) +29” 5. Mikel Landa (Spain / Team Sky) +1:17” 6. Daniel Martin (Ireland / Quick-Step Floors) +1:26” 7. Simon Yates (Britain / Orica-Scott) +2:02” 8. Nairo Quintana (Colombia / Movistar Team) +2:22” 9. Louis Meintjes (South Africa / UAE Team Emirates) +5:09” 10. Alberto Contador (Spain / Trek-Segafredo) +5:37”