Breakaway rider Blel Kadri climbed to a fine solo win on stage eight of the Tour de France as Vincenzo Nibali consolidated his overall lead on the race's first day in the mountains.
Kadri formed part of the day's five-man escape group but moved into a lone lead on the first of three late climbs and held off the chasing peloton to win by 2min 17sec.
Alberto Contador finished second on the day after proving the strongest of the general classification contenders on the 1.8km ascent to the finish at Gerardmer La Mauselaine, but Nibali crossed the line only three seconds later in third.
The Italian now has a 1min 44sec gap at the top of the standings after second-placed Jakob Fuglsang, his Astana team-mate, was dropped on the second climb.
Yates falls short
Team Sky's Richie Porte rises to third overall, 1min 58sec back, having finished fourth on the day, while Contador is now sixth but remains 2min 34sec adrift.
Britain's Simon Yates was also in the day’s breakaway and although it looked like he could challenge for the stage win with 40km to go, he couldn’t follow Kadri and was eventually caught by the pack with around 1km remaining.
The only other Briton in the race, Geraint Thomas, also fell away in the finale after being caught up in a crash, leading him to lose around a minute and a half to the general classification favourites.
Kadri, who claimed his first Tour stage win and also moved back to the top of the mountains classification, said: "I am really happy. It’s an amazing feeling. I told my team I wanted to go for it. It's a day that suited me and I am delighted. It was tricky to take the chance so early, but I had to do it."
The stage was relatively short, at 161km, but three categorised climbs in the final 30km offered scope for small gaps to emerge between the general classification contenders.
Kadri hangs on
Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) were joined by Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) and Adrien Petit (Cofidis) in the breakaway and when the quintet opened up a lead of over 11 minutes, it looked certain they would fight for stage honours between themselves.
However, thanks to an injection of pace by Tinkoff-Saxo, the gap plummeted to six minutes with 25km remaining, prompting Chavanel to attack at the foot of the first climb, the Col de la Croix des Moinats, with Kadri the only man who could follow.
The 27-year-old then left his fellow Frenchman behind with 22.5km remaining and managed to consolidate his lead over a rain-soaked final two climbs to secure a famous win.
Back in the peloton, the race favourites stayed together over the first two climbs, but then Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) accelerated at the foot of short ascent to Gerardmer La Mauselaine, and while Nibali and Porte could just about keep up, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) were dropped and lost time.
Stage eight result
1 Blel Kadri (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, 3:49:28
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +2:17
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +2:20
4 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +2:24
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr, +2:28
6 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:28
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +2:36
8 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, +2:40
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:48
10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling, +2:54
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 33:48:52
2 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, +1:44
3 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +1:58
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +2:26
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +2:27
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +2:34
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:39
8 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, +2:52
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +3:02
10 Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol, +3:02