Aru had already been in the spotlight when he was accused of poor sportsmanship after attacking triple champion Chris Froome in controversial circumstances during stage nine.
By his own admission, Froome "just didn't have the legs" on the last of four climbs at the end of the 214.5 km slog that took almost six hours to complete and which has thrown the general classification wide open with a week still to go. Landa, after his controversial Stage 12 distancing of team leader Froome, dropped back from the group of GC contenders and was critical in Froome's return to the group.
As a result, the top of the overall standings remains unchanged, Froome leading by 18 seconds from Astana's Fabio Aru with Bardet a further seven seconds back. "I said before the start it would be good if a Frenchman won. It won't be easy to defend".
Under pressure: Chris Froome survived a tough day in the saddle.
He started the day six seconds ahead of the three-time champion but, before yesterday's 15th stage, trailed Froome by 18 seconds after coming home 30th overall, 25sec behind stage 14 victor Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb. On the shortest stage of the 104th Tour, barring the two time-trials, Sky brought Mikel Landa into play - sending Froome's Spanish teammate racing off ahead on a fast and furious Stage 13 that became part-chess, part a test of speed and endurance over a close-packed succession of three climbs in the Pyrenees.
Since then he has been suffering from pain in his back, yet has still gained time on Froome and numerous other front-runners.
"There is a lot of trust, no doubt, no question", Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said after the stage when asked about Landa's ambition.
Aru claimed later he did not realise Froome was in trouble - which is hard to believe because he was immediately behind when Froome began waving his arm _ and that he stopped as soon as he found out.
After Monday's second rest day and a likely straightforward stage on Tuesday with a bunch sprint finish, Wednesday sees the Tour head into the Alps for the final mountain showdown of this year's race.
I also agree. But not everyone does. "That's what I really like as a rider, is to fight three weeks in a row and give everything every day", Mollema said. It is causing riders to lose their ability to race and sponsors should be asking for their money back, he says.
"There should never be an unwritten rule that you should stop. Really clever as well", said the yellow jersey holder.
"Bardet, Aru, Uran, lost the chance of a lifetime", LeMond, who is on the Tour as an analyst for Eurosport, said in his daily chat with Reuters.
"UCI cycling comms have a cry over taking water from a spectator but turn a blind eye to teams riding on the back of the tv moto??" he tweeted. I would ask for some money back. "The riders have lost their ability to race". Today he snuck off the front, caught people by surprise. "I just have to soak it up and to wait for better days".
"I knew it was downhill to the finish". I just can't handle guys who attack because their rival has had a problem.