Fabio Aru Wins 2017 Tour de France Stage 5; Chris Froome Claims Yellow Jersey

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJuly 5, 2017

Stage winner Italy's Fabio Aru celebrates on the podium after winning the 160,5 km fifth stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 5, 2017 between Vittel and La Planche des Belles Filles. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE        (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
LIONEL BONAVENTURE/Getty Images

Three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome ascended to the top of the general classification on Wednesday in spite of Fabio Aru's rise to victory in stage five of the 2017 competition.

Aru made an impressive late break from the rest of the pack riding toward the end of the stage at La Planche des Belles Filles and ultimately finished far ahead of his peers, per the official Tour Twitter account:

Team Sky will be happy to see the yellow jersey remain in their possession after Geraint Thomas—another British contender for this year's title—previously held the general classification lead.

Here's a look at the overall standings in the race for the yellow jersey after Wednesday's race:

Thomas still sits second in the classification standings but is now 12 seconds off the pace being set by his Sky team-mate, and UCI ProTeam Astana rider Aru is just another two seconds behind the Welshman in third.

Aru may have only just won his first stage of the 2017 Tour—the first of his career in this competition—but David Walsh of the Sunday Times teased the Italian as a potential title contender to watch out for:

Stage five offered a relatively routine journey from Vittel to La Planche des Belles Filles and featured two climbs, one category three and a much more intimidating category one—Plancher-les-Mines—near the finish line.

Swiss team BMC Racing were prominent among the peloton for much of the route but ultimately gave up their lead to a rampaging Team Sky, who timed their, and indeed Froome's, late pushes to perfection.

The first rider to make it over the summit of the Cote d’Esmoulieres—the category three first climb of the day—and mop up two valuable King of the Mountain points was Jan Bakelants.

In an incredible show of stamina, Bakelants remained there almost until the finish, having helped form the breakaway from the beginning of the stage until there was only 3.5 kilometres or so remaining.

Team Sky had laid the groundwork for a late charge, but it was Aru who won biggest with his clinical push from the middle of a jostling pack:

The Sardinian finished 13th in the 2016 Tour de France, but if he's able to replicate more performance akin to that displayed on Wednesday, Aru can bank on besting that accomplishment this time around.

Much work still needs to be done as of yet—16 stages of it, to be exact—but Froome will bask in his reclaiming of the yellow jersey for now, with plans for a fourth French title in the works:

Quick-Step Floors rider Dan Martin finished as runner-up to Aru on Wednesday but was in positive spirits following another podium placement, per The Guardian:

“That’s a hell of a lot of seconds, thirds and fourths I’ve got in the Tour De France in the past two or three years now. This is not about confidence, it’s about calmness. I’m just enjoying my racing, I’m feeling no pressure at all. I’m just enjoying riding the Tour de France. The team’s on a real roll and I’ve got some of the best riders around me to support me.”

He and others will look to make a renewed attack on the top spots when they return to the fray for stage six on Thursday, where a journey from Locarno to La Punt Chamues-ch awaits.

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