Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo handed the home nation their fourth victory in this year’s Tour de France on Monday after the Français des Jeux rider won stage 15th in Pau.
A six-man breakaway group animated the day’s action as the peloton made their way over 158.5 kilometres from Samatan to Pau on the northern edge of the Pyrenees.
It turned out to be a race winning move by the group who with the main bunch happy to let them go were to battle it out for the podium places.
With 6.5km from to the line Fedrigo took his chance and burst out in front.
But closely on his back wheel was American Garmin rider Christian Vande Velde.
The pair’s attack was to last to the line as they entered a two-man sprint for top honours.
Fedrigo eventually powered to victory winning his fourth career tour de France stage win and second in three years that has ended in Pau.
Twelve seconds behind the battle for third place began.
In the end Europcar’s stage 10 winner Thomas Voeckler of France outkicked Denmark’s Nicki Sörensen of the Saxo Bank team to claim the final spot on the podium.
The six man break all held on for the top six places – Belgian Dries Devenyns crossed the line in fifth while Frenchman Samuel Dumoulin was the last to finish out of the breakaway group.
Bradley Wiggins meanwhile finished again safely in the main bunch almost 12 minutes behind to retain his leader’s yellow jersey.
As the riders now settle in for a rest day on Tuesday British tour hopeful Wiggins is two minutes and five seconds clear of team-mate and compatriot Chris Froome.