A seven-man break got away just 4 kilometres in, containing...you guessed it, Daniel Teklehaimanot, looking for yet more points, Christophe Riblon, Pieter Serry, Tim Wellens, Arnaud Courteille, Albert Timmer and yes, a Europcar rider, Romain Sicard.
Teklehaimanot took the early climbs, taking his tally to over thirty points, but the excitement really started on the Col d'Allos, by which time the breakaway was down to six, with Alpe d'Huez conqueror Riblon unable to rekindle that form. BMC set the early pace, and had the gap down to under two minutes to the break which was now attacking itself, with Wellens, Serry and Sicard together in the front, with Timmer clinging on grimly when Rohan Dennis looked in trouble, and BMC backed off, which marked the death knell for the break, as Team Sky moved to the front and absolutely erased their advantage.
When Philip Deignan moved to the head of the peloton, it really began to fragment, as Bauke Mollema, Adam Yates and even yellow jersey Rohan Dennis were dropped by the man from Donegal put in some searing pace for Sky. Ian Boswell then started riding on the front for an even longer turn. However, he couldn't stop French favourite Romain Bardet from going near the top of the climb, about where I'd imagine Merckx attacked 40 years ago.
Of course, single rider + descent is faster than 30 riders + descent, and Bardet was driving home his advantage, descending beautifully down the dangerous, narrow Allos, his buffer growing by the second, and by the corner. And those corners were numerous, he had a minute's advantage with just 10 kilometres to go, sprinting down the straights, taking controlled risks and always looking comfortable, as the peloton couldn't get near.
He had one minute and twenty seconds at the end of the descent, as the 6-kilometre climb as Froome saw the danger, moving to the front himself, but the gap wasn't even decreasing, and Bardet was looking like the winner with just over four kilometres to go as Boswell was still on the front, but he was tired, as tired as Bardet, in what was perhaps an error from the British outfit. Finally he yielded to Poels.
Poels immediately made an impact, dropping Ruí Costa and Alejandro Valverde, the stage favourite, and then the big fish, Italian and Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, but still few inroads were being made into Bardet's lead, and he only had two kilometres left. Kelderman was the next to fall.
Poels gave his last effort, and Froome's last man Nicolas Roche came to the front, sprinting to set up a Froome attack, and attack he did, explosively, into time-trial mode immediately. The only people to even attempt to follow were Tejay van Garderen and Movistar rider Benat Intxausti, but they dangled a few metres behind, as Bardet entered the final kilometre with a minute's advantage. Froome was spinning up the mountain, but STILL Van Garderen was winching himself up, just metres behind.
Bardet crossed the line, empty, lying on the ground, and the clock began to count as Van Garderen caught Froome and blew straight past, taking second and yellow, finishing 36" behind the Frenchman to take the yellow jersey. Froome came in third, just behind, with Intxausti on his wheel.
|1.||FRA||Romain Bardet||ALM||4hrs 21' 32"|
|2.||USA||Tejay van Garderen||BMC||á 36"|
|1.||Tejay van Garderen||18hrs 03' 22"|
|2.||Benat Intxausti||á 18"|
|7.||Andrew Talansky||1' 08"|