Robbie McEwen sealed his second stage win of the race with a stunning sprint into Gueret on stage nine.
Inigo Landaluze and Filippo Simeoni had made a lengthy break and led in the dying seconds before being swallowed up by the top sprinters.
McEwen battled it out with green jersey-rivals Thor Hushovd and Stuart O'Grady on the final straight.
But as the sprint trio crossed the line, the Lotto-Domo rider did just enough to edge Hushovd into second.
The win stretched the Australian's lead in the green jersey competition, the prize for the top sprinter. He has 195 points to Hushovd's 177.
Afterwards McEwen said: "What a fantastic finish. After the crash a few days ago, I was still suffering with my knee. But I was still able to win the stage, which is incredible.
"I saw two riders left and right and just gave everything to the line.
"That could be my last chance of a stage win before the Champs Elysees. I'm just so happy to get a stage win."
There was carnage in the back of the field on Tuesday when Mikel Pradera hit the central reservation and took out a number of riders four kilometres from the finish.
Yellow jersey-wearer Thomas Voeckler was unaffected and retains the overall lead. Race favourite Lance Armstrong also steered clear of the danger.
And Voeckler said: "The rest day on Monday was welcome but, if the favourites start the serious fight on Wednesday, it will be hard for me to keep the jersey. It's a long stage, heat is forecast and I must admit I'm a little afraid."
The Tour heads into the mountains for the first time on Wednesday - the 237km 10th stage from Limoges to Saint Flour.