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Chris Froome loses Tour de France lead (video)

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Chris Froome lost the Tour de France yellow jersey to Italian Fabio Aru by uncharacteristically fading in the final kilometer of Stage 12 in the Pyrenees on Thursday.

France’s Romain Bardet, third in the overall standings, won the stage.

Rigoberto Uran and Aru were second and third, both two seconds behind. Froome, who entered the day with an 18-second lead on Aru, was 22 seconds back of Bardet in seventh place.

Aru now leads Froome by six seconds with nine stages left, culminating with the ceremonial ride into Paris on July 23.

“I just didn’t have the legs on the final [kilometer],” Froome said. “The race is certainly on now.”

The Brit Froome is trying to move within one Tour title of the career record of five shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

But now Froome has relinquished the yellow jersey for the first time to a general classification contender in his six Tours.

The 27-year-old Aru, in his second Tour, will wear it for the first time in Friday’s Stage 13, adding to his collection of race leader jerseys from the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

Aru won the 2015 Vuelta, has finished second and third at the Giro and was 13th in his only previous Tour in 2016.

“It’s one of the most beautiful things that can happen to you in life, wearing the yellow jersey,” Aru said, according to The Associated Press. “Clearly, it won’t be easy to defend it.”

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Tour de France Overall Standings
1. Fabio Aru (ITA)
2. Chris Froome (GBR) — +:06
3. Romain Bardet (FRA) — +:25
4. Rigoberto Uran (COL) — +:55
5. Dan Martin (IRL) — +1:41

Friday’s stage is the shortest mountain day in Tour history, half the length of Thursday’s trek into the Pyrenees.

Riders face three category-one climbs on the 63-mile day, with a 16-mile descent to the finish on Bastille Day, when French riders are always motivated to go for stage wins.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 7:30 a.m. ET.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

Chris Froome can clinch Tour de France title No. 4 in time trial

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Chris Froome moved one step closer to his fourth Tour de France title by finishing in the same time as his rivals in the 19th of 21 stages on Friday.

Now, Froome focuses on a 14-mile time trial in Marseille on Saturday, where he is heavily favored to defend his 23-second lead over Frenchman Romain Bardet and 29-second advantage on Colombian Rigoberto Uran.

Sunday’s finale — the ride into Paris — is traditionally not a day for attacking the yellow jersey.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.

On Friday, Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen won his first Tour stage in six years on the three-week event’s longest day (138 miles). Boasson Hagen pulled away from an eight-rider group in the last two miles and crossed five seconds ahead of German Nikias Arndt.

Froome, Bardet and Uran were in the large group finishing about 10 minutes later.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Froome, 32, is trying to move within one Tour title of the career record of five shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Froome has been the anchor of cycling’s most powerful team — Team Sky — for five seasons now. Every time the rail-thin Brit has reached the Champs-Élysées in that time, he has been wearing the yellow jersey. The only miss was when he abandoned on Stage 5 in 2014 after crashing three times in two days.

Bardet, 26, was runner-up to Froome in last year’s Tour by 4:05. No Frenchman has won the Tour since Hinault in 1985 — the host nation’s longest victory drought.

Uran, 30 and the 2012 Olympic road race silver medalist, is trying to become the first South American to win the Tour.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

WATCH LIVE: Usain Bolt in final race before world championships

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Usain Bolt races for the last time before his farewell world championships, live during NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold‘s coverage of a Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday starting at 2 p.m. ET.

Bolt will put his four-year winning streak on the line in a 100m race against his toughest field since the Rio Olympics.

The race start is set for 3:35 p.m. A meet preview is here.

The Jamaican will retire after racing the 100m and 4x100m worlds in London in August, with Monaco being his only other meet left this season.

WATCH LIVE: Usain Bolt races in Monaco — 2 p.m. ET

There are doubts about Bolt’s form with worlds in two weeks. He failed to break 10 seconds in his first two races this season in June before seeing his German doctor to work on his chronically balky back.

Fortunately for Bolt, nobody else is performing that well this season, either. None of his top rivals in recent years — Yohan BlakeAndre De Grasse and Justin Gatlin — have broken 9.90 seconds this season.

The Monaco field includes two of the five fastest men in the world this year — South African Akani Simbine and American Chris Belcher — and four men overall who have broken 10 seconds in 2017.

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MORE: Bolt says women are outperforming men in sprints

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