Portuguese Alberto Rui Costa of the Movistar team hung on during a tense finish to win the Tour de France eighth stage, a 189km ride from Aiguirande to Super-Besse on Saturday.
Norwegian Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo upset predictions to retain the race leader’s yellow jersey on the first day in the mountains of the Massif Central.
Hushovd, who took the lead last Sunday when Garmin-Cervelo won the team time trial in Les Essarts, was expected to lose it on the first of two consecutive hilly stages.
However the reigning world champion battled hard to keep pace with the climbers and punchers who had threatened to steal Rui Costa’s thunder in a wet finish to the stage. He retained his 01sec overall lead on Australian Cadel Evans of BMC.
Belgian Philippe Gilbert finished second 12 secs behind Rui Costa after punching out of a peloton containing all the yellow jersey favourites as they tackled the last section of the steep 1.5 climb to Super-Besse.