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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Martin sprints to second as Froome takes over in yellow

Ireland's Dan Martin
Ireland's Dan Martin

Chris Froome took the yellow jersey from Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas in the Tour de France as Fabio Aru won stage five from Irishman Dan Martin at La Planche des Belles Filles.

Froome crossed the line in third place ahead of BMC's Richie Porte, but with Thomas down in tenth place the Welshman surrendered the race lead he took in Saturday's opening time trial in Dusseldorf.

Three-time Tour winner Froome now leads by 12 seconds from Thomas, with Aru up to third, 14 seconds back, after the Italian national champion won his first career Tour de France stage.

Froome said: "I remember the first time I was in yellow in 2013. It was a bit of an overwhelming experience to be honest, but I think I've spent enough days in yellow now to get used to that.

"I know what I'm up against. This is going to be the hardest-fought battle in terms of the general classification and I know my rivals are right up there."

The 160.5 kilometre stage from Vittel was billed as the one which would bring true shape to the fight for yellow as the first of only three summit finishes in this Tour, and it delivered.

This is only the third time the Tour has visited La Planche des Belles Filles - scene of Froome's first career Tour stage win in 2012.

But it is worth noting that on both previous occasions the man wearing yellow at the end of the day - Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 - was wearing it in Paris at the end of the race.

The strength of Aru's attack will certainly have caught the attention of his fellow contenders as the 27-year-old burst clear with 2.4km left and won by 16 seconds from Martin, with Froome leading Porte over the line another four seconds back.

Martin, who is now sixth overall, said: "It was a cat and mouse game when Fabio went. We kind of looked at each other. He was super strong so congratulations to him. I knew I just had to wait for a sprint and if Fabio was close enough I'll be able to catch him but in the end it didn't work out."

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