As the Belgian crossed the line, he required support to stay on his bike. Without it, he may have slipped back down the 24 per cent 100 metre finishing ramp towards the chasers pursuing him on the 160.5 kilometre stage. Ciccone followed 11 seconds later, waiting upon previous leader Julian Alaphilippe's (Deceunink-QuickStep) finishing time to see whether a stint in the golden fleece was in his immediate future.
Alaphilippe produced a combative ride to attack the peloton to try and retain his lead, finishing with the best of the GC favourites, Geraint Thomas and Thibaut Pinot, but fell just short of Ciccone as the Italian moved into the race lead by six seconds.
“It’s unbelievable," Teuns said of his first Tour de France stage victory. "I knew since the Dauphiné that I was in good shape but to win at the Tour de France already this week is incredible.
"I didn’t expect to win here although I knew there was a chance for the breakaway to succeed today. I took my opportunity. In the second last climb, the four strongest came out from the breakaway. I knew Ciccone was the main guy.
"I’m so happy I finished it off. At the bottom of a climb, I saw my mum, my dad and my girlfriend. It brought me a lot of emotions.”
The preceding 'pressed gravel' section was difficult enough, but the riders, including Ciccone and Teuns, looked like they were moving through treacle with the finishing steep slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles foiling numerous attacks.
That included an assault from Mikel Landa (Movistar) three kilometres from the finish. He looked set to reward the earlier peloton-driving efforts of his Movistar team mates throughout the stage but came unstuck a couple of kilometres later.
Desperate to keep his yellow jersey, Alaphilippe leapt from the peloton as it hit the gravel section. But as he swept around the left hand bend onto the final slope, he had no answer and began pedalling squares. Much was made of Egan Bernal before this stage but it was Ineos team mate Geraint Thomas who took his grand tour legs for a spin, attacking in a similar spot as the yellow jersey, who he ultimately swept past enroute to the line.
The Welshman finished in fourth ahead of an impressive Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), but the sticky finish dramatically reduced his advantage to just two seconds.
Most of the other main GC hopes including Australian Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) finished within ten seconds of Thomas, with the main losers of the day being Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Teuns and Ciccone formed part of an early 14 rider breakaway which saw an interesting battle for polka dots between Tim Wellens and Ciccone, across the six categorised climbs before La Planche des Belles Filles, with the Soudal Lotto rider still leading the competition after the prolonged battle out on course.
The break reached a maximum of eight minutes lead, but consistent pressure brought the advantage down gradually and it was only Teuns, Ciccone and Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert) that survived off the front of the chasing main bunch.