Sprint safety in the spotlight at Tour de France

Sprint safety in the spotlight at Tour de France

Sprint safety in the spotlight at Tour de France

"It's a nice situation for me that I can say now that I've won 11 stages on the Tour, I'm very proud of that", said the 29-year-old Quick-Step rider.

The past two riders to hold the leader's jersey after that particular summit - Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali - have gone on to win the race, but with only five stages completed the defending champion knows that will not be easy to do in 2017.

Froome s Sky team-mate and British compatriot Geraint Thomas remains second at 12sec with Italian Fabio Aru, the victor of Wednesday s fifth stage, third at 14sec.

A four-man breakaway had gone clear in the opening part of the stage but they were always doomed to failure and caught 6km from the finish.

After a 25km transfer to the start this morning, my BMC squad were one of the first teams to arrive so instead of sitting on a stuffy team bus we all chose to go to the sign-on early.

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After I finished, one of the first people I went to thank before I warmed down on my stationary bike in the shade near our team bus was teammate Nicolas Roche.

But Porte failed to deliver, beaten by Italian Fabio Aru, who signalled his ambitions at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, and Chris Froome is wearing the yellow jersey, 12 seconds ahead of team mate Geraint Thomas. "I still think it's going to be a good Tour". You just have to see how it will be raced.

But with Sky reluctant to chase them down, BMC made a decision to take over pace-setting duties, in the hope of setting up Porte for the stage win and the time bonus that would offer.

The GC (general classification) contenders will return to proper action on Sunday for a stage featuring three out-of-category climbs and a risky descent into Chambery. It should be a big weekend of racing.

"We had to ride a pretty fast pace all day", Froome said.

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A first dose of mountain work; the 12km first-category climb just before the finish is long enough to burn off any weaker elements and the 10km across a plateau gives them no chance to regain contact.

But more importantly, the 2015 Vuelta victor made a statement that he is a genuine challenger to end Froome's Tour reign.

However, seven years ago, the Welshman faded badly on the climb, dropping to 31st.

Roche's first cousin Martin is fourth 25 seconds down.

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