France's Romain Bardet is all smiles after winning Stage 12 of the  Tour de France between Pau and Peyragudes yesterday. Pic/AFP
France's Romain Bardet is all smiles after winning Stage 12 of the  Tour de France between Pau and Peyragudes yesterday. Pic/AFP

Romain Bardet and Fabio Aru blew the Tour de France yellow jersey race wide open yesterday as Chris Froome showed his first signs of weakness. Bardet won the 12th stage while Aru, who was third, stripped Froome of the race leader's yellow jersey.

"It's one of the best things that can happen in life to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France," said a beaming Aru. "I never imagined this would happen. It was a really tough day and tough stage. I'm delighted to wear this jersey, it repays all my teammates who've helped me so much in this Tour — I dedicate it to them."

In an amazing finish on an uphill airstrip with a vertiginous 20 percent gradient, Aru went on the attack in the last few hundred metres. Froome tried to respond but didn't have the legs to follow — yet Bardet did. The French hope overhauled Aru and won by two seconds from Colombian Rigoberto Uran, who finished in the same time as Aru.

"I'm delighted to have raised my arms (in victory), it's a weight off my shoulders because I hadn't done it yet this year," said Bardet.