The star of the day, however, might be 26-year-old Frenchman Romain Bardet, who took off like a lightning bolt up the last climb to win his third mountain stage in three consecutive Tour de France races.
Then came a group of six at 1m 48s, including Uran, Bardet, the Italian Tour leader Fabio Aru (Astana), British defending champion Chris Foome (Sky), who Aru deposed on Thursday, Yates’ main white jersey rival South African Louis Meintjes (UAE), and Poland’s Michal Kwiatowski (Sky).
Bardet is third overall, 25 seconds off the pace.
“I dedicate this jersey to my teammates, who have been doing everything to help me”, said Aru, whose lieutenant Jakob Fuglsangm, fifth overall in the morning, slipped down the rankings after starting the 214.5-km stage from Pau with a fractured wrist following a crash on Wednesday.
The group of favourites came to the foot of the climb together, but after Aru struck out first, Froome struggled to respond. It was a really tough day and tough stage.
“This just felt so good”, he said. This was a seismic moment, for it marked the first time ever that Froome has ever lost the jersey to a general classification opponent. For some reason, Landa followed instead of waiting with Froome, perhaps in an effort to maintain his top-10 place or steal away bonus seconds, and Froome’s younger rivals achieved a gap.
Landa’s presence in the move was of particular interest, with the Team Sky rider posing a potential threat to the overall race leader Fabio Aru of Italy.
Although Froome relinquished the maillot jaune to Tony Martin for two days in the 2015 Tour, this is the first time the Briton has lost the yellow jersey during the Tour to another general classification contender. “No excuses, I just didn’t have the legs there in the final kick”, he said. By finishing in that leading pack well ahead of the likes of Aru and Froome, Landa clawed back valuable time in the overall standings, giving Sky an intriguing card to play in coming stages.
Brailsford seemed to relish how the 101km race from Saint-Girons to Foix unfolded with his men spread across the road as opposed to controlling affairs with military force from the front of the bunch.
“Landa dedicated himself to the team yesterday and he was criticised or talked down”.