World champion Thor Hushovd ensured there was no French miracle in Lourdes when he outpaced two local riders to claim victory in the thirteenth stage on Friday.
Hushovd pulled away from a small chasing pack in the final stretch of the 152.5km run from Pau, as the Tour entered its second day in the mountains.
There was some consolation for the home support however, as Thomas Voeckler retained the yellow jersey. The French rider holds a slender lead on his rivals with eight stages remaining after he finished 17th.
"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," Hushovd told reporters.
"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," he added.
The Norwegian rider battled with Jeremy Roy and David Moncoutie, both of France, in the closing stages of the race. Roy had surged ahead of the pack after 50km, with Hushovd and Moncoutie on his tail. The finale was a tense give-and-take between the three riders before Hushovd surged ahead to win his eighth Tour stage.
"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.
Voeckler clung on to the lead in the Tour's overall standings but it was a disappointing day for the Frenchman.
"The team controlled the race well. We all had painful legs but we did the job," he said.
In the US, the tour will be shown live on Versus, with repeats and highlights being aired on NBC. The entire event is also available online. NBC is selling a Tour de France all access pass for $29.95, which provides HD video of every stage of the race all the way through to the final leg, when cyclists reach Paris on 24 July. Read more at NBC, via GigaOm.
For viewers in other countries, Steephill.tv has a comprehensive list of channels showing the Tour in other regions.