Chris Froome loses Tour de France lead in Stage 12

Despite the advantage increasing when Froome and Italian national champion Aru briefly went off road, Cummings was eventually caught and passed by a select group. If I'm doing a bike race, I always try to make it as easy as possible and save my legs as much as I can. "I was missing the yellow jersey after wearing the pink one at the Giro d'Italia and the red one on the Vuelta".

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

Frenchman Bardet of Ag2R-La Mondiale won the punchy uphill sprint to secure a third stage win for the host nation ahead of resurgent Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac). With Froome toiling home 22 seconds down in seventh place, Aru - victor of Stage 5 at La Planche des Belles Filles - overturned his 18-second deficit to move four seconds ahead of Sky's triple Tour champion. "I put my efforts towards Sunday's stage this week, so it has come a little bit early" - Bardet may have surprised himself with the stage win.

Uran sits fourth in the general classification, 55 seconds back after being docked 20 seconds for taking an illegal bottle in the final five kilometres.

La Mondiale rider Romain Bardet of France wins Stage 12 of the Tour de France Thursday July 13. REUTERS  Benoit Tessier
La Mondiale rider Romain Bardet of France wins Stage 12 of the Tour de France Thursday July 13. REUTERS Benoit Tessier

Yates retained the white jersey for best young rider but saw his advantage over Meintjes cut to 2:38 after the South African rode clear of him - and Froome - on the final sting in the stage's tail. 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.

Team Sky had dominated the stage until the final 350m, when Aru made his move. A 12-man breakaway was allowed a lead of more than six minutes at one stage and by the time they reached the top of the Porte de Bales hors category climb 40km from the finish, Briton Stephen Cummings was on his own with a lead of around a minute and half from the Sky led peloton. They are proud and they will focus on getting the lead back.

New Zealand's George Bennett climbed from 10th to 9th overall.

Ireland's Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) betrayed little signs of his horror crash on Sunday to finish 13 seconds down in sixth place.

  • Rosalie Stanley