Like Phinney, Brown escaped up the road in the day's break but faced five categorised climbs over 212 kilometres between Verviers, and Longwy.
“If you had told me I’d be the one to take the jersey, I would have told you that you were crazy, even this morning,” Brown said.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy. I never thought in a million years I’d be in the polka dot jersey at the Tour. I have no words. I’m speechless. I really don’t know what to say.”
The American fought off his fellow escapees, including main rival for the stage's KOM points, Nils Politt (Katusha-Alepcin) on the first, category four climb. But he wasn't so lucky on the second with the German out sprinting him.
Both on one point before looking at two points in the mouth on the Cote d"Eschdorf, the fight was on.
“I thought ‘Oh boy. The third climb really matters’,” said Brown. “It was just the two of us away, and I didn’t trust my sprint. I knew if I took him to the very end he’d out-jump me.
“I went early, with two kilometres to go, maybe too early, but it didn’t matter,” said Brown. “It paid off. I got the points.”
This put Brown in the virtual KOM lead with three points to Phinney's two and Politt's one. Just two climbs remained in the final 20 kilometres, the category three climb also serving as the uphill finish.
After Brown's group was caught, only Julian Calmejane (Direct-Energie) remained of a late breakway before the category four penultimate climb. The Frenchman took the one point here before falling back to the peloton with 10 kilometres to go. Sagan collected the final two points through victory, but Brown was safely ensconced in the red and white dots.
Unlike Phinney, there was no naked ambition involved in Brown's win.