World Road Champion Mark Cavendish unleashed a late burst of speed to win the 18th stage of the Tour de France.
The Team Sky sprinter benefited from a lead out by team mate and race leader Bradley Wiggins to leave his sprint rivals in his wake.
I don’t know how much I won by but I had to go early," said Cavendish.
"I knew I’d be able to go long and no one would be able to pass me, but with 500 or 600 metres to go I started and ramped up. I just knew I’d get it and I felt really good today.
"I just haven’t been able to show anything in this Tour with us going for the yellow jersey and there’s been no sprints.
An 16-man break led proceedings for the majority of the 222.5km stage from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde but the peloton managed to keep them in control with the gap never greater than 3 minutes 30 seconds.
At the 120km mark, a large dog ran onto the road and caused a crash in the peloton that claimed a handful of riders, including Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Denis Menchov (Katusha), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ). All remounted without serious injury.
A number of attacks were launched in the closing kilometres but with the gap coming down steadily the sprinters teams started to pull at the front in anticipation of a possible bunch finish.
Wiggins pulled at the front for Cavendish in the closing 1.5km before peeling off and letting team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen take over the job of leading the chase.
Inside the closing kilometre Nicolas Roche (AG2R), sensing the peloton closing in, made a bid for victory with Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) on his wheel.
But with the line in sight Cavendish launched himself from 500 metres out and dug deep to deliver a trademark turn of speed that handed him his second stage win of the race and 22nd of his career.
Sanchez and Roche, who would eventually finish fourth and fifth, could only gesture in disbelief.
“He has certainly improved his climbing and if you look at all those contenders for the Olympic road race there aren't many left really who you could say were in as good a shape as Mark, he certainly is the favourite," said Wiggins.
"He's the fastest man in the world, without doubt. He showed that he can go from 600 out, we just watched it, and he left them for dead, didn't he?”
Wiggins came over the finish line seconds later with his 2 minutes 5 seconds general classification lead on British team-mate Chris Froome intact. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) holds third place.
The Tour de France continues win a 53.5km time trial from Bonneval to Chartres.
Stage 18: 222.5km, Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde
1 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Sky 4hr 54min 12sec
2 Matthew Goss (AUS) Orica GreenEDGE
3 Peter Sagan (SVK) Liquigas-Cannondale
4 Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) Rabobank
5 Nicolas Roche (IRL) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
7 Borut Bozic (SLO) Astana
8 Sebastien Hinault (FRA) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEDGE
10 Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) Cofidis
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky 83hr 22min 18sec
2 Christopher Froome (GBR) Sky 0:02:05
3 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:41
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) Lotto Belisol 0:05:53
5 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC 0:08:30
6 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC 0:09:57
7Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) RadioShack-Nissan 0:10:11
8 Pierre Rolland (FRA) Europcar 0:10:17
9 Janez Brajkovic (SLO) Astana 0:11:00
10 Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ-Big Mat 0:11:46