Omega-Pharma's Matteo Trentin handed Italy its maiden win of the 100th Tour de France when he beat Michael Albasini and Andrew Talansky in a sprint finish at the end of an entertaining 14th stage on Saturday.
Britain's yellow jersey holder Chris Froome, of Team Sky, came over the
finish line with the main peloton and his chief rivals just over seven minutes adrift.
Froome did not come under attack during the undulating 191km ride from Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule to Lyon and still leads Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Belkin) by 2min 28sec and Spain's former two-time winner Alberto Contador (Saxo) by 2:45.
A day after Froome and several leading challengers lost 1:09 to key rivals Contador and Mollema, the contenders for overall victory kept their powder dry ahead of Sunday's first summit finish at Mont Ventoux.
Although Froome would love to win atop one of the race's legendary climbs, he said his priority is stretching his lead over his rivals.
"I'm totally focused on the general classification, but of course it would be a dream to win at Mont Ventoux," said Froome, who won on the only previous summit finish of this edition at Ax-Trois-Domaines on stage eight.
"I have been up there. I'm really glad I have seen it because it's a really tough climb. My focus is going to be on keeping yellow, possibly to build on the advantage I have.
"But it will be interesting because a lot of guys will be targeting it tomorrow."
Ahead of the next chapter in the battle for the yellow jersey, the undulating profile of the 14th stage gave ideas to plenty of riders and teams.
Trentin's win means Omega-Pharma now have four stage wins following victories by British sprinter Mark Cavendish (two) and German Tony Martin.
Normally a part of Cavendish's lead-out train, the 23-year-old Italian said his experience working for the 25-time stage winner had paid off.
"When you work alongside a rider like Cavendish, you learn a thing or two. I just waited patiently and unleashed my sprint with 100 (metres) to go," said Trentin.
"We're all super happy. All my teammates came behind the podium to congratulate me and that was really nice."
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