With the break given little leeway by Team Sky yesterday, it was inevitable that the final 200m would come down to a battle between the main favourites. Bardet took an impressive stage win as Aru finished third, taking the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Chris Froome.
The 14th of July is always a big day on the Tour de France, the infamous Bastille day this year just happens to fallson one of the most hotly anticipated Tour stages in recent times. 101km is short for a bicycle race and should catalyse some extremely aggressive racing, hold onto your hats boys...
Three Cat 1 summits, each progressively harder than the last, headline today's stage. First is the Col de Latrape, a shorter climb that packs a punch nearer to the top. This shouldn't see too many GC contenders play their hands and we will rather be treated to a dogged fight to get into the day's breakaway.
Next is the Col d'Agnes, the longest, and arguably most punishing, climb on today's stage. Despite it featuring in the midpoint of the stage, the summit comes at just 55km to go and could see some daredevil attacks over the top, namely from the Ag2R team who have already proven how much they love to push the laws of physics on the downhills.
The riders will be treated to some brief respite as they enter the valley section near the town of Massat, the infamous Mur de Peguere looming on the horizon. The word 'Mur' in Flemish literally translates to 'wall', and that is exactly what the riders will face on the latter slopes of this climb. Percentages reach 18% and average 12.5% for the final few kilometres, making this a pure climbers playground...
It's then a long, fast descent into the finish town of Foix, 28km that should allow for the biggest time gaps to be limited and the GC group to come back together. A 180 degree bend with just 100m to go could throw some danger into the final sprint, a rider would much rather come to today's finish alone...
Having finally revealed the chinks in his armour on yesterday's summit finish, Chris Froome has opened himself up to some attacks. The Brit struggled with the steep gradients and looked hopeless as he watched the smaller climbers dance away from him in the final 200m.
The opportunity to punish him is now there, but who will take it? Fabio Aru seems the most likely candidate; despite taking yellow yesterday, he only carries a 6 second buffer on Froome and will need to take more time out as soon as possible, the Italian cannot afford to take this down to the penultimate day's time trial.
With his teammate Jakob Fuglsang succumbing to injury however, Aru is going to have a hard time taking the fight to Chris Froome on today's stage; he'll need the whole of his Astana team, and possibly an alliance with a team like AG2R, to really start turning the screw on the Brit.
Step forward Romain Bardet, the French youngster coming good on the eve of Bastille day, vive la revolution! His AG2R team have been the most animated so far and have often looked the most willing to attack Team Sky.
He finished second on the podium last year and is looking to go one better, bringing home the first French victory in his home race since Bernard Hinault in 1985. As well as all the uphill kilometres today, there is a copious amount of downhill; Bardet will relish this and once again send his team on the attack down these hair raising descents.
His team is full of strong climbers and rouleurs and all will be at the service of Bardet today. Riders like Latour, Naesen and Frank may be pushed into the early break, giving him riders to bridge to with a late attack on the Mur de Peguere. It'll be a tough ask for Bardet to grab back to back stage wins, but he is one of the big favourites, 16/1 with Paddy Power, an E/W bet the best option today.
With it being Bastille day, each Frenchman in the race will be hoping to poke their nose out front today, eager to gain some airtime for the sponsors. Other possible attackers, that could take the stage win into Foix include king of the mountains, Warren Barguil, 12/1 with Bet365, Thomas Voeckler and Sylvain Chavanel, two French veterans of the sport, both at 80/1 with Ladbrokes.
Pierre Rolland and Thibaut Pinot are two other Frenchman that will be eyeing up today's stage. Both won stages in the recent Giro and have show imperious form on the climbs. Rolland will prefer a solo finish into Foix whilst Pinot could afford to take it to a sprint, his acceleration one of the fastest of the pure climbers.
Both will be looking to take the win for France today and, as a result, will be extremely motivated to catalyse attacks on the steepest ramps. Rolland can be found at 33/1 and Pinot at 25/1, both with Bet365.
With no summit finish to culminate today's short stage, there is a possibility that many of the main favourites will be deterred from attacking early, only to be caught on the flat roads into Foix. A small bunch sprint between the main favourites for yellow looks likely and if that is the case, Dan Martin and Rigoberto Uran will be sizing each other up, all the way to the line.
Both have strong finishing kicks and one already has a stage win this year, giving him the superior confidence to snatch another. With each of them fighting for a position in a tight top five overall, a win and a handful of bonus seconds will go a long way in their individual quests for yellow.
Martin is the top favourite of the day and can be found at 9/1 with Bet365. Uran can be found at slightly further odds of 12/1, also with Bet365.
For those people that love a mutiny story, an E/W bet on Mikel Landa to attack his own teammate and win the stage, can be found at 25/1 with PaddyPower.
The big favourites would be foolish to not attack Froome today whilst his armour is weakened, therefore I'm going for AG2R to light things up once again and Romain Bardet to be at the forefront of proceedings. I'll take 16/1 E/W on the Frenchman to take a solo win in Foix.
In the case of another lacklustre GC day, Dan Martin is a good bet to take the sprint and is worth a punt at 9/1.
For the breakaway, a few names should be covered with some small bets. Rolland at 33/1, Voeckler at 80/1, Naesen at 150/1 and Latour at 100/1.
Some H2H bets look particularly good today, all with PaddyPower once again:
Jan Bakelants (Win) vs Alessandro de Marchi - 8/11
Romain Bardet (Win) vs Fabio Aru - 4/6
Rigoberto Uran (Win) vs Chris Froome - 8/11
Greg Van Avermaet (Win) vs Sylvain Chavanel - 15/8