Froome defies wheel drama to retain Tour de France lead

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He could be an alternative solution for Team Sky next week in the Alps if Froome struggles.

While Dutchman Bauke Mollema was soloing to victory in Le Puy-en-Velay, Froome was putting himself into the red to chase down his rivals on the steep inclines of the Col de Peyra Taillaide. "I am very grateful for my teammates doing the work to help me".

"I was too far back at the start of the (final) climb", said Aru. I had no option. He struggled badly on Thursday's Pyrenean stage, falling out of overall contention and when he was dropped early on Friday by the peloton, he chose to call it quits.

They were joined by a further 18 riders as the race reached the second of four climbs of the day, which came with almost 100km remaining. "I thought I might not see the lead again". I'm going to pass out tonight. "They come for the finals, I guess".

Froome was impressed. "He has ridden a very good race so far".

With Bardet being a local hero, roadside fans revelled in Froome's situation and reportedly jeered the Briton as he gave chase.

But some have suggested that Landa is now a serious threat to three-time Tour victor Froome's status as Sky's team leader. "He is a super-strong rider and he showed today that he is really in control".

However, it was not just Froome's "great escape" that drove the compelling narrative.

A sprint specialist, Kittel has now won 14 Tour de France stages in five appearances at cycling's showcase event, a record for a German rider. Second was Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE) at 19s, followed by Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) in third.

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Of the overall contenders, only Rigoberto Uran and Dan Martin stuck with Froome.

Team Sky survived a "sticky moment" when Chris Froome suffered a bike problem Friday. He now leads by18-second over Italy's Fabio Aru. Yates finished in the Froome group, not succumbing any time in the white jersey competition.

The world time trial champion was overhauled on the main climb by Team Sunweb's Warren Barguil, who consolidated his leadership of the mountains competition by cresting the summit first.

Martin's efforts to chip away at the deficit continues to pay off and are making him a genuine danger to the race leaders. "I think he has made the right moves at the right times". A late surge from Martin saw the Quick-Step Floors rider climb to fifth, ahead of Landa.

"I knew it was downhill to the finish".

"Now I'm back in the GC race".

"I am happy with my legs and now I'm looking forward to the rest day", he said.

The usual protocol - the "unwritten rule" - is for the peloton to wait for the inconvenienced rider in such circumstances, but Aru appeared to take advantage of the situation by increasing his pace.

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