Froome regains control as Matthews wins stage 14 of Tour de France

Froome regains control as Matthews wins stage 14 of Tour de France

Froome regains control as Matthews wins stage 14 of Tour de France

Overall, Aru's lead on Froome remained unchanged at six seconds.

Rival Frenchman Romain Bardet's AG2R team upped the pace on the penultimate climb of the day as Froome suffered a mechanical problem.

There was no such politeness this time.

Mikel Landa has been so strong over the last two weeks that there is no doubt he could be a team leader at the Tour de France.

Froome congratulated him, saying: "The race is certainly on now". Mikel Nieve and Sergio Henao pulled him back, and Mikel Landa dropped back from the speeding GC group with Bardet and his teammates. "For a guy who's doing so well in the classics and capable of winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Lombardy, and Fleche Wallonne, which he hasn't yet (second in 2014 and 2017) but he will some day, I'm sure, to come here to the Tour and riding for GC, very few riders can say that", added Roche. "I thought perhaps I wouldn't get back to the front". "Otherwise it was game over for me".

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"That was extremely stressful, panic stations really".

Last week, Bennett was penalised 20 seconds for accepting a drink from a bystander, but later had the penalty withdrawn on appeal.

"He's a real threat now for the overall title in Paris", Froome said. "The wheel wasn't straight anymore", he said.

By recovering from the misfortune, Froome now takes the jersey and an 18-second lead over Aru into Monday's rest day, the last of two at the Tour, ahead of a crucial last week of racing in the Alps and with a time trial in Marseille.

Bennett finished 32nd, 6min 25sec behind Dutch stage victor Bauke Mollema, with several of his rivals finishing ahead of him.

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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) had a rough day, losing nearly four minutes in the GC battle and moving down to 11th overall. He picked up 30 points for the Stage 14 win for a net of 29 since Kittel beat him in the intermediate sprint.

Mollema held his arms out in a cross shape as he sped across the finish in Le Puy-en-Velay, the start of a famed Christian pilgrimage route to Spain. Champagne would be uncorked in celebration, he promised. "But I made it!"

It had been clear since midway through the day - a 189.5km stage through the attractive Massif Centra range to Le Puy en Velay - that stage honours would go to the breakaway, with Sky happy to let a 28-man group pull further and further away. "I always said Dan's capable of a top 10 initially, now I'd say he's capable of a podium", Roche told AFP.

But he still had reserves at the end to finish the stage with a sprint, making clear that he's not prepared to cede an inch of road without a fight.

Cut adrift after a broken spoke forced a wheel change, Froome was at one point 50 seconds behind close rivals Romain Bardet, Fabio Aru and Rigoberto Uran. Descending the Mont du Chat, the Quick-Step Floors rider was with the leaders, but the crash could have easily dented his yellow jersey chances. Now just 1:12 behind Froome, Martin can expect to be watched even more closely by Froome and his Team Sky support riders from now on.

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