Robbie McEwen won a bunched sprint finish to take victory in the 13th stage of the Tour de France.
The Australian, who also won stages five and seven, pipped compatriot Stuart O'Grady after the peloton caught the leaders inside the final 500m.
Race leader Lance Armstrong retained his overall lead of 38 seconds over Dane Michael Rasmussen.
But Alejandro Valverde, fifth in the standings, was forced to pull out with tendinitis in his knee.
The Spaniard covered 78km of the 173.5 km stage from Miramas to Montpellier before the pain became too much.
Five riders - Carlos Da Cruz (FDJ), Juan Antonio Flecha (FAS), Chris Horner (SDV), Thomas Voeckler (BTL) and Ludovic Turpin (A2R) launched an escape after 17km.
Their advantage reached around nine minutes at one point but the peloton, led by McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto team, gradually reeled them in on a predominantly flat stage.
The five escapees were set to be caught with 18km left, but decided on a brief period of co-operation to try to hold off their pursuers.
Sylvain Chavanel, of the Cofidis team, broke away from the chasing pack to catch the leaders with 12km left, and American Horner went with him as the duo tried one final attack for the line.
They retained a 10-second lead heading into the final kilometre, but the sprinters, with Fred Rodriguez leading in McEwen, finally overhauled them in a frantic finish.
"It was a really close-run thing," admitted a delighted McEwen afterwards.
"Had my team not worked so damn hard, it wouldn't have come back together.
"What they did was truly incredible, to bring back nine minutes on day 13 of the tour.
"It was an absolutely incredible effort. What they did was self-torture."
Stage results (top 10)
1. R McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto, 3hrs 43mins 14secs
2. S O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, same time
3. F Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto, same time
4. G Trenti (USA) Quick Step, same time
5. T Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole, same time
6. Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom, same time
7. Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner, same time
8. Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas, same time
9. Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre-Caffita, same time
10. Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval, same time
Overall standings (top 10)
1. Lance Armstrong (US) Discovery 50hrs 13mins 50secs
2. Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank +38secs
3. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole +2:34
4. Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC +2:40
5. Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak +3:48
6. Levi Leipheimer (US) Gerolsteiner +3:58
7. Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears +4:00
8. Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile +4:02
9. Andreas Kloeden (Ger) T-Mobile +4:16
10. Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak +4:16