On the top of the final climb Aru lost 1 minute 2 seconds to the yellow jersey group. On the Col d’Izoard Astana rider gave his all, coming back to the GC contenders group after every attack. But, after a new attack of Romain Bardet, Aru had to step down and to continue with his own rhythm. During the last week Fabio fights with the strong bronchitis, which became even harder at two Alpine stages. Problem with the breath in the high Alps did not allow Aru to continue GC fight on the same level.
- Since the stage I’ve got the yellow jersey, I live some tough moments because of the illness. Anyway, I tried my best to keep on fighting and today I just gave my 100%. With all this I could be happy with the way I did this stage and with the fact I am still high in the classification. Despite the illness, I don’t give up here at the Tour de France, - said Fabio Aru.
The polka dot jersey Warren Barguil became stage 18 (Briançon – Col d’Izoard, 179,5 km) winner after his attack from the GC contenders group with a few km to the finish line. Colombian rider Darwin Atapuma finished second (+0.20), French Romain Bardet was third (+0.20). Fabio Aru crossed the line 13th (+1.22).
Astana Team did a very active race, four riders went in a huge breakaway of the day: Alexey Lutsenko, Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev, Andriy Grivko and Michael Valgren. On the penultimate climb after a set of attacks a group of 4 riders with Alexey Lutsenko among them broke away clear. Later, with more or less 15 km to go Lutsenko made a solo attack, which was ended with just 5 km to the top of the Col d’Izoard.
- Today, we did an active stage, while I felt quite good. There were a lot of attacks on the penultimate climb, so I found myself in a group of four. After downhill just before the Col d’Izoard we remained two in front, while later I continued solo. The final climb was really hard, I did all I could, but Atapuma and some other riders caught me. At the last few kilometers, I joined the group of Fabio Aru and did my best to help him, - said Alexey Lutsenko.
After the last mountain stage of the Tour de France 2017 Chris Froome holds the yellow jersey and GC lead ahead of Romain Bardet (+0.23) and Rigoberto Uran (+0.29). Spaniard Mikel Landa is 4th (+1.36), Fabio Aru is 5th (+1.55).
Tomorrow will be held the longest stage of this edition: 222,5 km from Embrun to Salon-de-Provence.
Photo credit: © Bettiniphoto