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Aru signals Tour ambitions with blistering attack

06 July 2017 - 07:37 By Reuters
Stage winner Italy's Fabio Aru celebrates on the podium after winning the 160,5 km fifth stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 5, 2017 between Vittel and La Planche des Belles Filles.
Stage winner Italy's Fabio Aru celebrates on the podium after winning the 160,5 km fifth stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 5, 2017 between Vittel and La Planche des Belles Filles.
Image: Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

Fabio Aru claimed his maiden Tour de France win yesterday as defending champion Chris Froome snatched a yellow jersey he intends to wear all the way back to Paris.

Italian champion Aru launched a blistering attack in the final stretches of the fifth stage, jumping from the leading group with 2.3km left of the 5.9km climb at a lung-busting average gradient of 8.5%.

On a searing hot day in eastern France, the 2015 Vuelta champion of the Astana team became the third winner at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, where Team Sky's Froome came to prominence in 2012 and Italy's Vincenzo Nibali prevailed in 2014 when he won the Tour.

"I had seen a video of Nibali's win and I tried to do the same to see what would happen," said 27-year-old Aru. "I wanted to test my rivals. I did not have the stage win in mind but obviously it's a great day."

Ireland's Dan Martin took second place, 16 seconds behind, and Froome was 20 seconds off the pace in third, with Richie Porte fourth.

Last year's runner-up, Romain Bardet of France, took fifth, a further four seconds behind.

Colombian Nairo Quintana, tipped as one of Froome's main challengers, struggled to finish ninth, 36 seconds back, and Spain's Alberto Contador limited the damage in eighth place, 26 seconds behind Aru.

Froome took the yellow jersey from teammate Geraint Thomas, who could not sustain the pace on the climb's steepest parts.

Overall, three-time champion Froome leads Thomas by 12 seconds with Aru in third, a further two seconds behind. 

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