Rui Costa took a memorable victory on stage eight of the Tour de France after holding on up the Super-Besse climb.
The Movistar man proved to be the strongest rider on the day after attacking out of the day's breakaway in the closing stages.
Behind Costa a battle for the yellow jersey was raging in the peloton as the field reached the foot of the final climb.
A brave late attack from Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) came to nothing with the Kazakh swallowed up as the leading contenders duked it out on the third category ascent.
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) attacked and held on to seal second place 12 seconds back and in doing so, moved back into the green points jersey.
Cadel Evans (BMC) led home the bunch three seconds later but was unable to move into the race lead after a canny ride from Thor Hushovd saw the Norwegian maintain his yellow jersey for another day.
The stage proved to be another near-miss for the Australian, whose team put in a huge amount of work throughout the day with Hushovd's Garmin-Cervelo squad seemingly willing to give up the race lead.
A group of nine men moved clear in the opening stages as the race left Aigurande, with the escapees quickly pulling out an advantage of over five minutes as they reached the first of the day's four categorised climbs.
The gap held firm with BMC controlling the pace on the front, signalling their intentions for team-leader Evans.
Astana and Vinokourov also upped the stakes by stringing out the bunch on the lead-up to the penultimate climb.
With no Vacansoleil presence in the break, Johnny Hoogerland and his Dutch squad were resigned to losing the polka dot jersey, yet with 28km to go Hoogerland attacked only to find that he was too late to take any points on the second category summit.
The escape group fractured as the riders hit the decisive climb with the four remaining riders constantly looking to attack each other in the closing kilometres.
With 26km remaining Vinokourov finally unleashed his thinly-veiled attack and pushed clear in a move that caught the attention of a number of leading contenders.
A brave attack from the Astana man ultimately came to nothing, with his bid for yellow foiled on the final climb.
The race continued on Saturday without Team Sky team-leader Bradley Wiggins who was forced to abandon the race following a broken collarbone on Friday.
Now back home in the UK, Wiggins remained philosophical about his situation but warned his rivals he plans on returning to action as soon as possible.
On the crash that put him out of the race, he admitted: "It's one of those things. It comes with the territory of the Tour de France, constantly seeing crashes, especially in that first week. And actually, up until then, I'd been pretty lucky in avoiding most of the big ones. So it was unfortunate that one got me and put me out of the race.
"Life goes on. There are lot of other people with a lot worse problems than a broken collarbone. You have to consider yourself lucky and try to take the positives from it.
"It will get better. I'll be on my bike within a week. There's always the end of the season and we'll be into the winter months and before you know it everyone will be talking about next year's Tour de France."