Italian Rinaldo Nocentini took over the Tour de France yellow jersey on Saturday after the 224km seventh stage of the race won by Frenchman Brice Feillu.
Feillu, racing at the Tour de France for the first time and the brother of Agritubel teammate Romain, attacked a nine-strong group of frontrunners 5.8km from the finish of the first mountains stage of the race.
A second peloton including all the overall victory contenders at that point trailed the frontrunners by around five minutes.
And after a first attack from two-time Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans, the Astana team of Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador quickly took things in hand.
Evans’ brief acceleration was easily countered by Armstrong, and after an attempt by the Australian’s teammate Jurgen Van den Broeck, Contador flew away from the group and went on to finish the race on his own.
It was initially announced that the Spaniard, the 2007 champion, had done enough to take over the yellow jersey after he came over the finish 3:26 behind Feillu and ahead of Armstrong’s group.
That honour, however, went to Nocentini, who rides for the French AG2R team. Contador’s move however moved him up to second place overall, replacing Armstrong as the biggest threat to the yellow jersey.
Overnight leader Fabian Cancellara dropped down the overall standings after struggling to keep pace with the chasing peloton.