Landa jumped from ninth to seventh and from seventh to fifth overall over the last two days. Today on the short and punchy stage to Foix, he looked ready to take yellow jersey in a long-range power move with Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo).
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“We saw yesterday that Mikel Landa is feeling great so it was a great card for us to play today,” Froome said after riding to the team bus greeted by awaiting fans’ cheers.
“He’s going well and he showed that today and he’s a real threat for the overall. It’s a great card for us to play especially since Astana doesn’t have the numbers to control the rest.”
Watch: Tour de France stage 13 highlights
Froome sits in second place at six seconds overall behind Fabio Aru (Astana). Aru, however, lost two team-mates due to injuries in the last few days: Dario Cataldo on stage 11 and Jakob Fuglsang on stage 13.
Landa, who already won a stage and the mountains classification in the Giro d’Italia in May, escaped with Contador after the first climb in the 101km stage. At first he marked Contador, then he helped him ride clear.
Questions persist about Froome’s form after he lost the yellow jersey on stage 12, especially with Landa looking strong and gaining time in the past two day. For now, Landa holds a strategically strong spot for Sky, only 1-09 behind Aru.
“I’m very happy with today. For us with Mikel Landa moving up like that was a good situation for us. Especially with some of these big mountain stages coming up,” Froome said.
“It was a great outcome for us. Mikel Landa really put in an amazing ride today. We wanted him to come back into the GC game. This could be a winning move for us in the days to come.”
Froome slipped out of the yellow jersey lead on stage 12 when he lost 22 seconds on the finishing climb. Today in Sky’s new white jersey, he launched an attack on the top of the final climb and tried to make his way free on the descent to Foix. Nothing seemed to stick.
“It was quite a great feeling to have to go out there and try to race for the win today as opposed to racing defensively and having the pressure to defend the jersey,” he said. “It felt quite nice to have the shoe on the other foot.”