Team Sky ace overcame shock of losing Maillot Jaune on Thursday with superb jump on his main rival
CHRIS FROOME stormed back into the Yellow Jersey and is ready to go to war all the way to Paris to keep it this time.
The reigning three-time champ regained the Tour de France lead just 48 hours after suffering on a ridge too far in the Pyrenees.
But on the ramp in Rodez he turned his six secs deficit into an 18 secs lead over Italy’s Fabio Aru who gave up the coveted maillot jaune with a whimper.
And Froome, who was seventh on the stage one sec behind the winner, said: “It’s great to be back in yellow. It’s really an amazing feeling.
“Taking over 20 secs on Aru is enormous. I’m shocked to see the same time gaps here as from that day in the Pyrenees and I’m just glad to have bounced back from that day.
“Every seconds counts. It’s a fight for every second this year and it’s going to be a war with a surprise every day and I know I am not going to be safe until we get to Paris.”
The final 650yard steep climb to the finish of the 112.7mile stage 14 from Blagnac was tough, but was not expected to produce major changes in the standings.
But Froome had been perfectly positioned by Team Sky while Aru’s weakened Astana outfit could not give him the same protection.
Froome finished the stage pedalling 4.1mph quicker than the Italian who surprisingly struggled.
The Monaco-based rider, 32, added: “It’s all thanks to my team-mates that I got the jersey back and special thanks to Michal Kwiatkowski who was superb all day.
“Right at the end ‘Kwiat’ was screaming in my ear on the radio ‘Go Froomey go, there are gaps all over the place here’. That was music to my ears.”
Team-mate Luke Rowe, last of the 176 riders left, said: “We gave up the yellow jersey once and I saw that Froomey was very disappointed and he won’t do the same again.”
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France’s Romain Bardet is 23 secs back in third with Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran six secs further adrift.
But Sky boss Dave Brailsford insists he has no problems with the duo not being penalised for illegal time feeds on stage 12 where Froome lost the yellow jersey.
Brailsford said: “I’m much happier if the Tour de France is not settled by time penalties. It’s good to have a sense of British fair play.
“Chris had the same thing last year when he had to run up Mont Ventoux and he got his time back.”
Aussie Michael Matthews won the stage from Greg van Avermaet with the chasing pack which included Froome one sec further back.
The Team Sunweb rider, 26, said: “When we finished here two years ago, I had four broken ribs and skin off all over my body from a crash. To come back and win is a dream come true.”