Froome loses yellow jersey as rivals sense weakness on tough finish


It was a really tough day and tough stage.

Froome's cause wasn't helped when he briefly followed Mikel Nieve off the road into some spectators trying to eat some food after they misjudged a corner.

The Sardinian ace came third and is now six seconds ahead of ex leader and three-time victor Chris Froome of Britain.

A number of riders were penalised 20 seconds in the general classification standings for taking illegal bottles in the final 10 kilometres of the stage, including Rigoberto Uran who could have otherwise closed to within 35 seconds of the yellow jersey.

Italian Fabio Aru claimed the overall leader's yellow jersey as previous leader Froome of Team Sky could not sustain the pace in the final few hundred metres up a steep climb to the finish line.

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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.

Froome, who held an 18-second lead over Aru at the start of the day, was 22 seconds back in seventh and lost the yellow jersey.

Total control: Froome's Sky team had seemed to be in total control of the stage all day. "We have also previewed tomorrow's stage and I expect a battle", Bardet said.

Nairo Quintana had already been dropped as the Colombian struggled to recover from the Giro d'Italia. 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. Nieve ended up riding inbetween two caravans while Froome and Fabio Aru were just about able to stop stop short before getting back on track. But missing from the list of guilty parties was stage victor Bardet, despite video suggesting he grabbed a drink at exactly the same time as New Zealander George Bennett - who was hit by the race jury.