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Marcel Kittel wins his fifth stage of the Tour de France

15 July 2017, 04:52 | Winifred Adams

Marcel Kittel wins his fifth stage of the Tour de France

Fabio Aru of Italy riding for Astana Pro Team slips on the leader's yellow jersey after taking over from Chris Froome

Chris Froome remains in contention for a fourth Tour de France title after Team Sky put the pressure on their rivals with a perfectly executed plan in Friday's 13th stage, won on Bastille Day by France's Warren Barguil.

Landa spent the day in a breakaway with aging Tour legend and fellow Spaniard Contador, riding ahead by more than two minutes of the new yellow jersey bearer, Fabio Aru, who was powerless to chase with no teammates by his side.

Landa's fine ride, which propelled him to 1min 9sec off the overall lead, is a boost for Froome as it gives him an ally in the top five of the general classification.

Simon Yates of Orica-Scott finished ninth on the stage to remain sixth overall and hold on to the white jersey for the best young rider.

De Marchi was dropped once Contador and Landa flexed their muscles on the climb, meanwhile, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) jumped off the front to join Barguil and get an advantage on the main group of favourites.

Froome looked imperious in his three Tour victories in 2013, 2015 and a year ago, never giving his rivals a chance.

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

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. With Froome only six seconds behind him overall, the leader of the Astana team knows he can't afford to let the Briton get away from him.

Aru's depleted backing in Astana became even clearer as he lost one of his top support riders, Dane Jakob Fuglsang. He bettered that by winning Thursday's stage 12 with a gutsy final flourish, out sprinting the Stage 5 and 9 winners Rigoberto Uran and Fabio Aru.

Vinokourov, though, said this stage was significant, not least because Froome has often excelled in the Pyrenees in the past.

Bardet will have to wait, however, as the Tour now heads eastwards away from the Pyrenees, and Froome and the rest of the peloton will enjoy four days racing on less challenging terrain.

"Yesterday was a hard day for me but today I felt a lot better and we played a good game strategically", Froome told French television.

"I'm based in Spain for the next three months and it's always been a dream to go see the Tour, so I thought I'd go along. It depends what he agreed to, most likely that he is a lieutenant for Chris Froome and if that's the case he should be loyal", said LeMond.

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