Nicolas Roche enjoyed his best performance of the Tour de France so far as Dutchman Bauke Mollema of the Trek-Segafredo team won the 15th stage, a 189.5-km ride from Laissac-Severac L'Eglise on Sunday. On that occasion though, the rider in third place, Samuel Sanchez, was two minutes off the lead. As Matt White told Cyclingnews, Froome's rivals will need a significant buffer going into that stage if they're going to win the Tour.
By finishing fourth in that leading pack that sped in almost two minutes ahead of a chasing group that included the Tour's top four riders overall - Aru, Froome, French rider Romain Bardet and Colombian Rigoberto Uran - Landa clawed back valuable time in the overall standings.
"I just gave it a try in the last 30km". Landa stayed at the front when the incident happened, but he waited for his leader when it became obvious the three-time champion was able to come back.
"I learnt a lot from past year and how I rode", he said of his ninth paced finish in 2016. But Cilic netted a return there, beginning a run of 17 points in a row won by Federer on his serve.
"We knew that after the climb it wasn't ideal for big attacks, so we had to really dig deep on the climb", said the Frenchman, who is third, 23 seconds back.
But he still had reserves at the end to finish the stage with a sprint, making clear that he's not prepared to cede an inch of road without a fight. But Sky promised they won't be caught off guard.
A perfectly timed lone attack in the closing moments of the 15th stage helped Ireland's Dan Martin move up to fifth position overall going into the final week of the Tour de France. "After this, we'll see what the last week holds and what I can do in the Alps".
Froome can draw confidence from the fact he's the one now wearing yellow, the fact that he and his team have defended their way through some challenging situations in recent days, and the fact he's the rider with the time-trial trump card.
"I am feeling better and better as the race goes on".
"It's stuff that I never really thought of could drain from you but it does".
"I'd like to think when we were controlling the race it was a bit calmer". He was one of the greatest and most aggressive riders of any era but I don't remember him ever attacking a rival who was having bad luck.
Australian Michael Matthews outpaced Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet in the final meters in Rodez, winning the stage 14 of the 104th Tour de France.
"I certainly feel as if I'm on an upward curve", the Briton said.
For many observers, though, it seemed to be an opportunity missed for Froome's main rivals, who could have worked together on the climb to prevent him regaining contact, something he himself feared. In the break, he soaked up top points on both of the Category 1 climbs and has a 78-point lead (116-38) over second-placed Primoz Roglic of LottoNL-Jumbo, who is not known as a climber.