Fabio Aru claims yellow jersey, Bardet nabs win

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. "I never imagined this would happen". Martin moved up to fifth in the GC at the expense of Aru's Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang, who struggled one day after fracturing bones in both his elbow and wrist following a crash in the previous stage.

"It's one of the most attractive things that can happen to you in life, wearing the yellow jersey", said Aru, who rides for the Astana team.

The final climb was only a few hundred metres long, but featured gradients close to 20 percent and after all the favourites reached the foot together, it was Bardet who timed his attack to perfection.

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Astana rider Fabio Aru chases Team Sky's Chris Froome in Stage 12.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran, who finished stage 12 in second place, resides in fourth place overall-35 seconds behind Aru. "It was a very, very tough finish".

Three-time Tour victor Froome faded badly on the brutal final climb of the 214.5 kilometre stage from Pau while Aru finished third to take the final bonus seconds on offer.

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The Team Sky rider cracked on the brutal uphill finish, finishing seventh, and Aru pounced to take the race lead by just six seconds.

Bidding to become the first Frenchman to win the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985, Bardet was the strongest in the brutal incline and described his third stage win on the Tour as "an huge joy". Quintana and Contador both conceded more than two minutes.

"We won't be holding anything back on a stage like (Thursday's) but at the back of our minds we will be thinking about the following day", Froome said. But Cummings didn't have the legs on the first category Col de Peyresourde and was caught with 8.6km left. 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.

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