Froome ready to fight back after losing yellow jersey

Three-time Tour victor Froome faded badly on the brutal final climb of the 214.5 kilometre stage from Pau while Aru finished third to take the final bonus seconds on offer.

The Italian is now six seconds clear of Froome, with Bardet third and a further 19 seconds back as the race was blown wide open.

Romain Bardet of France pulls away from Fabio Aru and Rigoberto Uran to win stage 12 of the Tour de France.

Chris Froome claims the race is now on after losing the yellow jersey on a gruelling day in the mountains on stage 12 of the Tour de France. It's as simple as that - I just didn't have the legs on the final kick.

Froome zig-zagged his bike across the tarmac as he tried to cope with a gradient so steep that it seemed to glue his wheels to the road. Stage victor Romain Bardet of France is third, 25 seconds back.

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But clearly in blinding pain by this point, the American ace struggled as she was moved onto a stretcher by the EMTs. Safarova was pictured in tears at courtside while her stricken friend was wheeled away to a waiting ambulance.

Bidding to become the first Frenchman to win the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985, Bardet was the strongest in the brutal incline and described his third stage win on the Tour as "an enormous joy".

"It's a good sign (that the Tour is not over yet) but it was just two hundred metres and I would not think too much about it", LeMond, who is on the Tour as an analyst for Eurosport, said in his daily chat with Reuters on Thursday. "I don't know, I'm not doing anything special", he said.

Cummings held a gap of two minutes over the summit of the climb - and was given a lifeline when Froome and Aru overcooked a bend at the start of the penultimate climb and were forced into a grass verge.

Fabio Aru celebrates taking the yellow jersey for the first time in his career. It was a really tough day and tough stage. Froome, Aru and Mikel Nieve misjudged a turn in the downhill but the race leader and his rival pushed hard on the brakes to avoid a crash. The big loser of the day was Colombian twice former runner-up Nairo Quintana, who cracked some 12km from the end of the 214.5km mountainous stage from Pau to Peyragudes in the Pyrenees. Cummings was then caught with 8km left, lining up a dramatic finale.

  • Regina Holmes