The general classification contenders would mostly finish together, although Ireland's Dan Martin was able to gain 14 seconds on the yellow jersey group with a late move.
The mathematics say it all: 10 teams have won stages, with Quickstep the biggest winners thanks to Marcel Kittel. Stadium finishes are rarely seen nowadays in cycling so this is relatively new.
Froome lost yellow on stage 12 to Peyragudes on Thursday but reclaimed it 48 hours later.
However, it was not just Froome's "great escape" that drove the compelling narrative. It has become a major talking point, with triple Tour champion Greg Le Mond saying the so-called unwritten rule should be scrapped.
"Mollema started at the top of the climb and we left him too much space", Ulissi said. "Killer instinct - you've got to go for it", he said. He also has a virtual extra advantage in the form of Saturday's final time trial in Marseille, a strong event for the British rider. The chances are that at least a couple of the top six will crack somewhere amongst those four climbs; nothing to date suggests that any of the top four will open a decisive gap.
"All three of them missed an opportunity".
French rider Romain Bardet, the runner-up to Froome last year, limited his losses to five seconds.
A nine-man group formed on the descent when he went on a lone attack, increasing his lead to 50sec at one point as the chase proved disorganised. But as Ag2r La Mondiale sports director Julien Jurdie notes, that will be far from easy.
"I was trying to get some seconds there". "We know it's a very, very, very difficult task faced with such a tough opponent as Froome, but I think we have the keys to turn some things around". "I thought I might not see the lead again". "Have a mano a mano, Froome against Landa", said LeMond. We always try and we have shown that in this Tour de France. In the 2015 Giro d'Italia, he had to be ordered by his team to wait for his then Astana leader Fabio Aru after going ahead solo in the colle delle Finestre. "It's to be expected if this is Romain Bardet's home stage".
The top four standings remained unchanged: Aru, 18 seconds back in second place; Bardet 23 seconds behind the leader in third; Uran, 29 seconds off the lead, in fourth.
"I'm very grateful that I'm on the right side of the time split at the moment", Froome said. Sampras won all but one of his in the 1990s; Renshaw won each of his in the 1880s, when the previous year's winner advanced automatically to the final.
But Kwiatkowski quickly handed over his wheel and Froome was helped back to the front by teammates Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka and Mikel Nieve, erasing a 45-second gap.
"My life's not going to change if I win the Tour de France".
"To mark history here at Wimbledon really means a lot to me just because of all of that, really", he said. "There's still so many guys up there within one minute of the overall title".