World champion Thor Hushovd shattered hopes of a first French victory in this year's Tour de France when he outwitted and overpowered two local riders to take the 13th stage from Pau on Friday.
There was some consolation for home fans though with Thomas Voeckler clinging on to the overall leader's yellow jersey. Norwegian Hushovd has made it an almost yearly duty to raise his arms in the world's biggest cycling race, having first won a stage on the Tour in 2002.
On his way to his annual celebration, the two-times green jersey winner did little to please the French crowds by beating David Moncoutie and Jeremy Roy, who had led the way for most of the day but was reeled in 2.5 kilometres from the line.
"It's my best win on the Tour de France because we had to climb the Aubisque, which did not suit me and I finished on my own with the rainbow jersey on my back," said Hushovd, who led the Tour for seven days after his Garmin-Cervelo team won the second day's team-time trial.
"Since losing the yellow jersey, I was really tired because I gave it my all in the first week. But I had the legs back today to go for it."
Hushovd, Roy and Moncoutie had parted with a group of 10 escapees on the major task of the day, the classic Aubisque mountain pass, and were left to battle it out in the long descent to the finish line.
Roy had been the first man out after 50 km and he went again on his own halfway up the Aubisque, with Hushovd and Moncoutie in his tracks.
The finale was a nail-biting cat and mouse game between the young Frenchman and the two chasers, but there was no suspense left when Hushovd surged ahead.
"It's a bitter pill to swallow. It was close but close or not close, the only thing that matters is to win," said Roy. The Francaise des Jeux rider, who also led the race on the top of the Tourmalet climb in the previous stage, at least earned the best climber's polka-dot jersey.
Even though the French have yet to win a stage, they now hold three of the distinctive jerseys, Roy being King of the Mountains and his team mate Arnold Jeannesson wearing the best young rider's white garment. The yellow jersey stayed with Frenchman Voeckler after his Europcar team managed the main bunch to bring him safely to the finish line.