In the general ranking of this Tour, completely revived, Aru above now Froome of 6 seconds and Bardet 25 seconds. It was a really tough day and tough stage. If I'm doing a bike race, I always try to make it as easy as possible and save my legs as much as I can. "I've read the book, it's something in British Cycling history that we know a lot about", he said of Simpson, the 1965 world champion and first Brit to wear the Tour's yellow jersey.
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. But Bardet had more left in the tank and powered away in the last 200m to beat Colombian Rigoberto Uran by two seconds. Coupled with his four-second time bonus for finishing third, Aru took over the race lead by six seconds as things started to get cramped at the top of the standings.
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 vast joy".
With his Team Sky team-mates peeling off the front, Froome appeared certain to attack in the closing kilometres.
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Nairo Quintana had already been dropped as the Colombian struggled to recover from the Giro d'Italia.
Riders face three category-one climbs on the 63-mile day, with a 16-mile descent to the finish on Bastille Day, when French riders are always motivated to go for stage wins.
"The number one priority for us is to not allow anyone to come back into the general classification game if they've already lost some time", the Team Sky rider said. Once the leaders reached the brutal last kilometre of the day, it was New Zealander George Bennett who attacked first but Froome's Sky team-mate Mikel Landa chased him down.
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