Chris Froome extended his lead in the Tour de France

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Froome was third in a thrilling mountain stage during which Fabio Aru slipped from second to fourth overall.

Marcel Kittel, who led the green jersey contest, was forced to retire from the race after crashing early in the stage.

There are four stages remaining, with a potentially crucial summit finish in Izoard on Thursday.

Froome had lost time on the drag up to the mountain-top finish in Peyragudes on stage 12, and had the yellow jersey taken off him by Aru.

But the Team Sky leader, aiming for his fourth Tour victory and third in succession, reclaimed it on an uphill sprint to Rodez on stage 14.

Should any of his rivals want to ride into Paris on Sunday in the yellow jersey, they need to attack on the punishing slopes up to Izoard and hope Froome cracks because he is expected to take time off them during Saturday’s time trial in Marseille.The Slovenian – a former junior world ski jumping champion – had launched off the front of the remnants of a breakaway and powered over the Galibier, at 2,642m the highest point of this year’s race and the final climb of the stage.

He then showed great skill and nerve during the long downhill drag to Serre-Chevalier to maintain his 90-second lead.

Behind him, the group led by Froome – which included fellow GC contenders Bardet and Uran – distanced some of their rivals.

The isolated Aru was the biggest casualty, but Ireland’s Dan Martin and Britain’s Simon Yates also lost time, although the latter remains in the white jersey as the race’s best young rider.

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