Australian Cadel Evans spent a relaxing first day in the Tour de France yellow jersey Wednesday as the peloton reeled from a second doping positive control at the race.
Kurt-Asle Arvesen of Norway beat Swiss Martin Elmiger and Alessandro Ballan of Italy to the finish line of the 11th stage, held over 167.5km from Lannemezan to Foix, to hand his ambitious CSC-Saxo Bank team their first win of this year's edition.
"I've won two stages at the Giro d'Italia and the under-23 world championships, but this is the biggest win of my career," said Arvesen, the national road race champion.
"I was actually expecting someone to pass me at the finish line but in the end no one came. It's the biggest win of my career, and it's even better when you're wearing the national jersey."
Evans, riding for Silence-Lotto, rode in with the main peloton 14:51 later following a bizarre final stage in the Pyrenees mountains which saw him retain his 1-second lead over CSC's Frank Schleck.
Still in third place overall is American Christian Vande Velde, at 38 seconds, with Gerolsteiner rider Bernhard Kohl of Austria in fourth at 57.
Two of Evans' major rivals, Russian Denis Menchov of Rabobank and Spaniard Carlos of Sastre of CSC, are still fifth at 57 and sixth at 1:28 respectively.
Evans admitted that having the yellow jersey on his shoulders had brought some welcome attention.
"You get some respect from your peers when you wear this jersey," said the 31-year-old, who finished the race runner-up last year to Albert Contador of Spain.
It was also a bonus for the Australian that he and his team spent a relatively calm day in the saddle, allowing him a further day of recovery following a scary crash on Sunday which almost ended his campaign.
"I'm still recovering from Sunday, so it's good to have that extra day. We had to use our heads today as well as our legs," added Evans.
How the race unfolded
Held in searing temperatures, the final day of racing in the Pyrenees featured only one major climb - and that provided Frenchman Amael Moinard with the springboard he needed to launch an attack.
He was part of a small group of riders that had pulled away from the peloton, containing Evans and all the big favourites, in the early stages and that went on to build a lead of 15 minutes.
However shortly after 2006 champion Oscar Pereiro, of Caisse d'Epargne, attacked the peloton on the category one-rated climb over the Col du Portel, Schleck's CSC team soon took over at the front and decided to chase.
That allowed Evans and his team to sit just behind them watching out for potential attacks, and when the main chasing bunch caught Pereiro it became clear that CSC had simply wanted to reel the Spaniard in.
CSC relaxed the rhythm, and allowed the real battle being fought out in front of them to reach its climax.
In total 11 riders were left trying to chase down Moinard. But, on his own and racing into a headwind, his lead on the chasers at the flag signaling 20km to race was around a minute.
He was soon reeled in, and in the closing stages the 12 leaders broke up as the finish line approached, with Arvesen taking his maiden Tour stage by the width of a wheel rim.
Doping controversy, heartache for Barloword
The stage ended on a sour note for the British-registered team Barloworld, who finished with only five riders after starting with eight.
Colombian Felix Cardenas, a former stage winner, in 2001, pulled out during the stage with a leg injury, barely hours after his Italian teammate Paolo Longo crashed out with a fractured collarbone.
Barloworld lost Colombian climber Mauricio Soler - the reigning 'King of the Mountains' - earlier in the race due to a fractured wrist.
On Wednesday morning, Spaniard Moises Duenas was kicked off the race by his team following the news of a positive test for the banned blood booster EPO
(erythropoietin). Duenas is currently in police custody.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008