Denmark's Nicki Soerensen, of the Saxo Bank team, maintained an impressive breakaway to win the 12th stage of the Tour de France here on Thursday.
Soerensen won the stage in 4hr 52min 24sec, with Italian Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R retaining the race leader's yellow jersey on the 21-stage Tour with a six- and eight-second lead respectively on race favourites Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong of Astana.
With more than 200km of racing over slightly rolling terrain ahead, the attacks came thick and fast in a first hour
of racing in which the peloton completed an impressive 48km.
However none of those attempts were allowed to leave the peloton's clutches until the 64km mark, when a six-man group formed.
Soerensen then pulled away from the main bunch to try and join the breakaway group, which was finally allowed to go on ahead unhindered.
They soon had a two-minute lead on the peloton, which, at the 15km to go mark, was at 5:15.
Seven kilometres earlier Soerensen had attacked his front group and was immediately countered by Frenchman Sylvain Calzati.
The pair worked together but with five riders still behind them also working together they were kept on a tight leash.
Their lead was slowly cut down and the quintet of chasers reeled them back in.
With 5km to go, Soerensen pulled away, leaving the fading Calzati to be submerged by the following pack and building up an impressive lead of almost 30 seconds over 1km.
At the finish, the 34-year-old Soerensen was free to bask in a first ever Tour stage win after 10 years as a professional cyclist and seven previous Tours.
There were five riders at 48sec, Remi Pauriol at 1:33 and the main peloton at 5:58.