(Photos: Yuzuru Sunada)
Norwegian Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo continued his dream Tour de France with victory in stage 13 from Pau to Lourdes on Friday.
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, of Europcar, retained the race leader's yellow jersey after arriving with the main peloton and all the favorites seven and a half minutes later. On the second of three consecutive days in the Pyrenees there were no changes to the overall standings.
Luxembourg's Frank Schleck is second overall at 1min 49sec, Cadel Evans of Australia is third at 2:06 and Andy Schleck is fourth at 2:17.
Spain's three-time and defending champion Alberto Contador is still seventh at four minutes in arrears just behind Italian Ivan Basso in fifth and sixth-placed compatriot Damiano Cunego.
Hushovd, who wore the race leader's yellow jersey for a week, now has nine individual stage wins on the world's premier cycling event and becomes the first rider since Spain's Oscar Freire to win a stage as reigning world champion.
Having helped Garmin win the team time trial on stage two when he took the race lead, he secured his ninth individual win on the race thanks to a brave climbing display and a daring descent which allowed him to catch Frenchman Jeremy Roy with 2km to race.
After being crowned world champion at the end of last year, the Norwegian was determined to win a stage in the rainbow jersey.
"I find it hard to believe where that display came from, but I'm happy. To win solo like that wearing the rainbow jersey is something else," said Hushovd, who becomes the first rider since Spain's Oscar Freire to achieve the feat.
FDJ rider Roy had come over the summit of the day's only major climb, the Col d'Aubisque, with a 50sec lead on compatriot David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and a two-minute lead on Hushovd.
Moncoutie, a strong climber who is known for his fear of descending, was soon reeled in by Hushovd. From there, Norway's world champion began a 42.5 km quest to reel Roy in before the finish. Hushovd then simply upped the pace when he caught sight of Roy inside the final 3km, going on to sail past the Frenchman and on towards the finish line.
Roy, who has been one of the most active breakaway riders of the race, was distraught at the finish where he finished third behind Moncoutie.
"It's too hard to take. I think I will have a lot of trouble digesting this," said Roy, who picked up the consolation of the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey.
"I had great legs on the climb, unfortunately I got caught on the descent. I'm not a big champion, so I do what I can with what I've got."
Asked whether the polka dot jersey was a consolation, Roy replied: "The polka dot jersey wasn't even in my plans, but a stage win was. "I didn't miss it by much but all that matters is victory."