When the race exploded and Froome slipped behind in the final few hundred metres, the Spaniard raced for the race win at the high Pyrenean airport strip, while Froome lost 22 seconds and with it the yellow jersey.
“The last 200m turned into a sprint, and instead of losing time, I played for the victory, and didn’t even look back,” said Landa. “I tried to setup Chris, and I didn’t see him, and he was a bit back.”
Some questioned if Landa was following the Sky playbook when a video emerged of Landa and head sports director Nicolas Portal in a seemingly heated discussion post-stage.
Landa had followed Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors) at 200 metres remaining and moved clear of then yellow jersey Froome.
Froome dropped from first to second overall while Landa jumped form ninth to seventh overall. It strengthened Sky’s position, but caused a stir considering Froome struggled on his own for the final metres while Landa battled for the win.
“If I was playing for the win, I would have been further up,” added Landa. “I don’t know if I would have won, but I would have been close.”
Had Landa won or placed second or third, instead of fourth, he would have taken the bonus seconds from Froome’s rivals.
Watch: Tour de France stage 12 highlights
“We were trying to control the stage,” Portal said. “We knew the last kick would be very decisive. Everything was going well up until that point.
“Everyone did a great job. Landa tried to go for the bonus. He tried to go for the stage victory for him, and for the time bonuses. When the race starts to be crazy, and hard to control, so it’s nice to have one guy more in GC.”
Causing more speculation that Landa may be racing for himself is the new contract that he reportedly has for 2018 with Movistar.
Team Sky signed Landa to lead their Giro d’Italia team after he placed third overall racing for Astana in 2015. He dropped out of the 2016 edition and in 2017, after losing time in a crash with Geraint Thomas and others, he won a stage and mountains classsification blue jersey.
Last year in the Tour, he helped Froome to his third title. Even if he is expect to leave the team at the end of the season, Sky has him in their elite Tour team again.
“Froome has already won three Tours,” Landa added. “Even though we didn’t expect what happened [in stage 12], it doesn’t change much. Now we will just have to attack.”
On the same finish in 2012, controversy arose when Froome had to slow to wait for then team leader Bradley Wiggins.