Two-time runner-up Cadel Evans of BMC held off a late charge from Alberto Contador to claim a prestigious victory on the fourth stage of the Tour de France Tuesday.
Norwegian Thor Hushovd, tipped to lose the yellow jersey after the brutal two-kilometre finishing climb at the Mur de Bretagne, held on to the race lead after the 172.5 km ride from Lorient to here.
Hushovd, of the Garmin-Cervelo team, upset predictions to finish sixth on the stage and thus keep his 01sec lead on Evans intact ahead of Wednesday's fifth stage to Cap Frehel.
Evans's American teammate George Hincapie took over pacing duties prior to the climb, but once at the foot of the steep 2km ascent all the favourites were bunched together.
Reigning champion Contador, who has had a disastrous start to the Tour, kept at the front in a bid to avoid losing any more time to his key rivals for the yellow jersey.
But despite moving to the front of a rapidly dwindling group 1.3km from the finish, Evans never looked threatened by the Spaniard.
Evans edged just a bike length in front of the group inside the final few hundred metres as the climb petered out. Contador made a bid to pass him metres before the finish line, but the Australian did enough to claim his first win of this year's race.