It was panic stations.
The three-time champion retains an 18-second lead over Aru, while Bardet is a further five seconds back.
Martin started Sunday's 15th stage in sixth at one minute 26 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome.
There was no such politeness this time.
Froome suffered a mechanical problem when Romain Bardet's AG2R-La Mondiale were going full out and had split the bunch before the key climb of the day.
Froome was impressed. "He has ridden a very good race so far".
"There were 30 kilometres to go and they all had an interest in distancing Froome".
"This is the closest Tour I've ever been in", Froome told Sky News at his hotel in Le Puy En Velay, south-central France.
'Bardet has also been strong in the last week and he has also got the team to back him up. "Otherwise it was game over for me".
I'm grateful I was able to come across because it was a critical moment.
The reigning champion has just signed a new two-year contract that keeps him at Team Sky until 2020, a show of commitment, he says, after a hard time for the racing outfit following a UK Anti-Doping investigation. "The wheel wasn't straight anymore", he said.
Dutch rider Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) escaped alone to win the stage, with four riders following him in as part of the next chasing group.
As was the case before the race, his goal is to end up on the podium in Paris.
But since stage 12 the Tour has taken a turn for the better, and as the riders enjoy their second rest day, the 2017 Tour is delicately poised.
"We saw today that Landa did not hesitate, he did the right thing, he stayed in the front", Brailsford said.
I prefer to be ahead on GC at this point than having to make up time.
His front brakes damaged, he crashed again on the perilous descent of the Mont du Chat and finished that ninth stage 1:15 behind Froome, his helmet smashed.
Ulissi produced an inspirational ride to grab second place and in doing so, recorded the best result for the team on this year's Tour.
For the GC men, this has meant a reduction in days when they can attack one another.
"Everyone needs a lead of more than one minute going into that time trial with Froome", White said.
Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen was third ahead of Belgian Philippe Gilbert, who launched his sprint too early and cracked 150 meters from the finish line.
In fourth is Rigoberto Uran, who stuck with Froome on the final climb. For everything he's accomplished, for all of the bright lights and big settings to which he's become accustomed, the guy many have labeled the "GOAT" - Greatest of All Time - admits to feeling heavy legs and jumbled thoughts to this day. 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.