An early attack from Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) shaped the day's action on Stage 13 of the Tour de France. Contador was joined by Mikel Landa (Sky) and the pair surged clear on the first climb of the day - at times Landa was even threatening to take the yellow jersey away from Fabio Aru (Astana).
The duo were joined by Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Barguil after a long hard chase and that was the group that went into the finish line. Barguil took the sprint easily and the wait was on to see what the time gaps would be back to the other contenders.
In the end, Aru was able to retain yellow after finding help from other teams in chasing to keep down the escaped riders' advantage, though the standings now look a lot tighter at the top after Landa thrust himself right into the fight for yellow.
As it happened
Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) and Barguil attacked straight from the gun, the Frenchmen looking to represent their nation on Bastille Day. Their attack, whilst determined, was brought back after a concerted chase and another group of hopefuls counterattacked.
This time, Phillipe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) went clear, surging to a minute's advantage before the first climb of the day, the Category 1 Col de Latrape.
De Marchi attacked his breakaway companions to jump away solo as the peloton rapidly closed the gap to the escapees. Riders were rapidly being dropped from the back of the main group who were chasing hard, distilling it down to just the general classification favourites and their key domestiques. The yellow-jersey wearer Aru quickly found himself isolated amidst a sea of his rivals.
Nearing the top of the climb Barguil took the opportunity to attack and extend his lead in the polka dot jersey. His attack was followed by Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) who was also joined by Mikel Landa (Team Sky). De Marchi was dropped once Contador and Landa flexed their muscles on the climb, meanwhile, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) jumped off the front to join Barguil and get an advantage on the main group of favourites.
Landa and Contador continued to push their way up the road, widening their advantage back to the other favourites, so much so that the former was threatening to become the virtual leader on the road after starting the stage with a two minute and 55-second deficit to Aru.
The impending change of yellow jersey saw the general classification leaders fire up over the top of the Col d'Agnes, jumping away and attempting to stay clear on the descent. Bardet and Froome were free briefly before the chase of the rest of the top climbers caught up with them.
Aru had been isolated throughout almost the entire stage, but was able to rely on help from other teams whose general classification positions were threatened by Contador, Landa and Quintana gaining time. Cannondale-Drapac and UAE Team Emirates were the most prominent of the teams on the front, with Sky the best positioned, with Landa threatening yellow, Froome sitting pretty in the main group and Kwiatkowski in between.
As the race hit the Mur de Perguere, the favourites all hit out from the third group on the road, trying to limit their losses to the escaped pair of Landa and Contador. Dan Martin took up the role of the pace-setter, grinding his way to the top and reducing the chasing group to all but the top yellow jersey contenders.
Quintana and Barguil made contact with the leading pair and formed a working group, with only Barguil sitting out turns as he had little incentive to work.
Froome attacked as they neared the top of the Mur de Perguere, shelling a number of top riders off the back as he tried to rid himself of Aru into the finish. Aru had to cover multiple attacks from Froome, with each surge shrinking the advantage of the leaders.
On the descent, attacks flowed from all of the favourites as it became a game of cat-and-mouse between the big names of the Tour. The assaults continued as the race entered the flat, with attack after attack eventually resulting in Martin surging clear. Yates went away soon after, bridging over to Martin.
At the front of the race, the lead group of four began eyeing each other up for the sprint finish in Foix. Contador launched his acceleration first, but no one was going to beat Barguil, who rounded Contador through the final corners and took out the sprint for the stage win with ease.
Martin and Yates crossed the line one minute and 38 seconds down on Barguil, gaining nine seconds on the group of the yellow jersey.