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Sky survives 'sticky moment' for Froome's yellow

17 July 2017, 03:58 | Charlene Valdez

Sky survives 'sticky moment' for Froome's yellow

Sky survives 'sticky moment' for Froome's yellow

"Panic stations", he said. 'I thought maybe, I wouldn't be able to get back up to the front, that it could be the yellow jersey changing shoulders again.

The three-time Tour victor and defending champion punctured at a critical moment and was forced to work hard to ensure he finished with his main rivals.

The defending champion came seventh, one second behind stage victor Michael Matthews of Australia as Aru, who started the day with the yellow jersey on his shoulders, lost 25 seconds to the Briton in the final effort, a 600-metre climb at an average gradient of 9.6 per cent.

There was no such politeness this time.

Meanwhile, Mollema of The Netherlands picked up his first win Tour de France stage win with his pace-pushing ride.

Helped first by teammates Mikel Nieve and then by Mikel Landa, and booed by some spectators as he labored past them, Froome worked furiously on the climb to reel in Bardet's group.

The Monaco-based rider, 32, added: "It's all thanks to my team-mates that I got the jersey back and special thanks to Michal Kwiatkowski who was superb all day. Otherwise it was game over for me". After he switched wheels, he relied on his teammates in what he called an "extremely stressful" moment.

Given that he lost one minute and 15 seconds in a crash last Sunday, he would likely otherwise be challenging for the yellow jersey now.

Froome didn't say as much but acknowledged that Landa could even beat him to the title. "The wheel wasn't straight anymore", he said.

He was seen being berated by Sky sports director Nicolas Portal following Thursday's 12th stage in the Pyrenees after Froome had cracked on the short, steep, final climb to the finish.

Bennett finished 32nd, 6min 25sec behind Dutch stage victor Bauke Mollema, with several of his rivals finishing ahead of him.

Mollema, a top-10 finisher at the Tours of 2013, 2014 and 2015, sped away on the descent from the Peyra Taillade climb and endured over the last 20 miles in front of a group of four riders who laid chase.

Mollema, who is 30 years of age, was imposed for the first time in a stage of the Tour. Champagne would be uncorked in celebration, he promised.

The Polish rider went all out, using his time trial skills to resist the peloton's pursuit as long as possible. But I made it.

The day's main drama occurred some way behind the battle for stage glory, following an early breakaway on the 189.5km route from Laissac-Severac l'eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay that was followed by Tony Martin (Katusha) initially making a solo push. Trailing 55 seconds behind Froome in the general classification, Rigoberto Uran remains in contention and Fuglsang is still within reach of the podium, 1:37 behind the yellow jersey.

"AG2R rode their race and rode fast". "I said before the start it would be good if a Frenchman won".

He crossed the line alongside most of his main rivals to maintain his 18 second lead over Italian Fabio Aru, with Romain Bardet of France third at 23sec.

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