Matteo Trentin emerged from a day-long breakaway to win the 14th stage of the Tour de France in Lyon.
There was no strategy in the finale. My first thing that I discussed with my director in the team car, Daniele Bramati, was to think about not using too much energy because yesterday we used a lot of energy in the crosswinds to set up the victory of Mark (Cavendish).
The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider finished ahead of Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) at the end of the 191km stage which began in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule. “To be honest, with two kilometres to go, I thought it was finished because (Julien) Simon was still at the the front," said Trentin. "(Marcus) Burghardt attacked from the last corner with Michael Albasini.
The general classification was unchanged with Team Sky's Chris Froome finishing in 22nd place, 7min 17sec behind the stage winner, to hold on to his yellow jersey ahead of Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Full results and standings
After the fireworks on Stage 13, the greater peloton took the day off which allowed a large group containing Trentin to succeed.
Four riders, led by Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard) were allowed some early leeway but was later joined by 14 others in the decisive move of the day.
As the break set about building its lead, Trentin, Albasini, and Talansky enjoyed the company of David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Marcus Burghardt and Tejay van Garderen of BMC, the RadioShack Leopard pair of Jens Voigt and Jan Bakelants, Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Movistar's Imanol Erviti and Jose Joaquin Rojas, Egoitz Garcia (Cofidis), Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) and Julien Simon (Sojasun).
The leaders battled for almost two hours before its efforts were rewarded with the chasing peloton ending the pursuit.
There was a counter attack out of the peloton from Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) but the pair were unable to bridge to the faster moving group and eventually gave up the effort.
The status quo then continued for the rest of the stage, with the only change an increasing time gap.
With less than 25k to go the détente in the break was called off as a series of attacks were launched - first by Albasini, then David Millar (Garmin-Sharp).
However those were minor shots fired, with the real action coming with less than 15 kilometres left when Julien Simon launched his bid for the first French victory at this year's Tour.
The Sojasun rider was the rabbit for the chasing breakaway but he held his nerve and speed to take the lead into the final two kilometres.
Desperation came from behind as the chasers launched a series of probing attacks. The efforts of Tejay van Garderen, Voigt and Geschke came to nothing and the majority of the break came together to contest the finish.
Albasini looked to have the measure of his companions in the final 100 metres but faded as Trentin accelerated to the stage victory, by half a wheel length, with Talansky further back.
"I tried to come back to them on my own but there were other riders on my wheel and they attacked one more time.
"I just followed them and we came back together as a group with 500 metres to go and I waited until the 200m to go mark to launch my sprint because we had a tailwind so it was good."
Trentin's win means Omega Pharma-QuickStep now have four stage wins following victories by sprinter Mark Cavendish (two) and time triallist Tony Martin.
The peloton will next tackle the 242km 'Queen' stage of the Tour from Givors to the legendary uncategorised climb of Mont Ventoux.
“Tomorrow's stage is a really interesting one because obviously there will be an early breakaway that's going to go," said race leader Froome.
"We wouldn't necessarily be that interested in bringing that breakaway back, we're looking at general classification not the stage win, but other teams will want to bring it back so that they can race for the stage.
"It's going to be quite a tactical game tomorrow in the early parts of the race but once we hit the mountain it's all about who has got the legs and that part of the race is quite straight forward."
SBS will broadcast all stages of the Tour de France live.
“To be honest, with two kilometres to go, I thought it was finished because (Julien) Simon was still at the the front," said Trentin. "(Marcus) Burghardt attacked from the last corner with Michael Albasini.