Lance Armstrong won the 17th stage of the Tour de France in sensational style after a gruelling day in the saddle.
Armstrong led home Andreas Kloden, Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Floyd Landis, winning the sprint for the line.
The stage exploded on the last of the day's five climbs, the first category Col de la Croix Fry, which the quintet crossed together.
Kloden looked to have won the sprint only for Armstrong to come from nowhere for a fourth win in this year's race.
It was a fitting finish to a memorable 205.5km stage from Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand.
Gilberto Simoni set out his stall early in the day when he jumped off the front of the peloton in the opening kilometres with Michele Bartoli, Rolf Aldag, Filippo Simeoni and Ludovic Martin for company.
Richard Virenque and Christophe Moreau attacked after the first major climb of the day, the first category Col du Glandon, and joined the leaders on the upper slopes of the hors category Col de la Madeleine.
La Madeleine has played a big part in the history of the Tour and was the highest peak of this year's race at 2,000m.
With 5,000 euros on offer to the first man over the top, Simoni and Virenque went wheel-to-wheel in a frenetic race which the Italian edged.
At the bottom of the descent the group had almost eight minutes in hand over the main field, however, slowly but surely they were reeled in as Armstrong's US Postal team drove the front of the peloton.
One-by-one the lead group was whittled down until just three were left, Virenque, Moreau and Simoni.
Virenque led them over the Col de la Forclaz to seal a record seventh King of the Mountains jersey, but as they began the final climb, the Col de la Croix Fry, it was clear their heroic efforts would come to nothing.
They were caught and overtaken by Carlos Sastre and soon the Armstrong group of five sailed past them, and in turn picked off Sastre, to set up an epic fight to the finish.
Landis was the first to attack on the descent and also chanced his arm with 2km left.
Both efforts came to nothing and it looked as if Kloden would make a more telling attempt with 1km to go.
The German sprang clear and turned into the finishing straight with daylight between him and the pursuers, who were well marshalled by T-Mobile team-mate Ullrich.
But Armstrong found the space and the energy to attack after a hard day's work to take his 20th Tour stage by the width of a wheel.
It was a virtuoso performance by the American which saw him increase his overall advantage in the general classification to four minutes and nine seconds over Basso.