The first summit finish of the Tour de France delivered a thrilling showdown between the General Classification contenders on the steep La Planche des Belles Filles climb which saw Richie Porte cross the line in fourth place.
BMC Racing Team controlled the race for the majority of the stage after eight riders went clear in the opening ten kilometers.
With all nine BMC Racing Team riders lined up at the front of the bunch, the breakaway’s advantage was kept to within three minutes on the 160.5km stage.
After coming down to two minutes, the advantage stretched back out to three minutes over the category 3 Esmoulières Slope, before coming down once again as Porte’s teammates dug deep to bring the group back.
Attacks from the breakaway saw the group split apart and eventually the last remaining riders were caught by the reduced peloton with 4km to go on the slopes of the climb.
Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Cycling Team) attacked with 2.5km to go and created a gap between himself and the ten or so riders left in Porte’s group.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) countered and Porte was immediately in his wheel as dropped riders began to crawl back behind them.
Inside the final kilometer, Porte attacked and gained some meters, as up ahead Aru held on to take the solo win.
Porte was passed by Dan Martin (Quickstep Floors) and Froome in the final meters before the line and finished in fourth place.
The first summit showdown sees a reshuffling of the General Classification with Froome taking the yellow jersey and Porte moving up to fifth place overall, 39 seconds behind.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I can’t say anymore for my teammates. They were incredible today, and I think we took it to them [the peloton]. In the final there, Aru slipped away. I’m still happy with my ride for the first mountain stage. I kind of expected a little more but there’s a long way to go.”
“As a unit today, BMC Racing Team were the team that made the race. Michi Schär and Stefan Küng basically rode the whole race on the front and then the rest of the guys towards the end. I thought we were going too fast and told them to slow down, but they actually kept it up and that’s testament to how strong they are.”
“Chris Froome is obviously going stronger than when we saw him at the last race but I think Team Sky weren’t quite what they were last year. Still, I think they have a lot of pressure coming up.”