Stage 13: Toulouse - Plateau de Bonascre - 197.5 km
Spaniard Carlos Sastre recorded a memorable victory on stage 13 of the Tour de France between Toulouse and Plateau de Bonascre.
German rider Jan Ullrich, who won the 12th stage, produced another impressive ride to finish second and Spain's Haimar Zubeldia was third.
Lance Armstrong, who looked to be struggling in the final 10km, made a remarkable recovery to finish fourth and narrowly retain the yellow jersey.
The American finished seven seconds down on rival Ullrich and now leads the Tour by just 15 seconds.
A fresh looking Ullrich stunned the weary Armstrong with a breakaway two kilometres from the finish of the gruelling 197.5 km 13th stage from Toulouse to Ax-3 Domaines.
The German, who has dominated the last two days of the Tour, picked up a 12 second bonus for his efforts to eat into Armstrong's lead.
The fascinating battle between the two will resume in Sunday's 191.5
km 14th stage from St Girons to Loudenvielle, with six climbs,
including four first category ones.
It was Sastre's first major victory for the CSC team, which has had to contend with Tyler Hamilton's shoulder injury in the past 10 days.
"It's a dream come true for any professional rider to win a
stage on the Tour," said the Spaniard.
"I really felt good from the start and decided to push for home with 10km to go and luckily it paid off."
The only other upside for Armstrong was he managed to gain time over key rival Alexandre Vinokourov.
The Kazak finished the stage in fifth place, falling over one minute behind the 31-year-old Texan in the overall standings.
"I'm not that disappointed," said Armstrong, who has blamed the persistent heat for his failure to reproduce the form of previous years.
"I didn't expect to have super legs - Friday was too
hard. It was a really difficult effort.
"It is not possible to recuperate in 24 hours, or 20 hours.
"I knew it was going to be a bad day right from the start.
"But with three days left in the Pyrenees I still have a lot of chances," added Armstrong, who will be anxious to develop a larger cushion of time over Ullrich before a final time trial on 26 July.
The defending champion is aiming to equal Spanish rider Miguel
Indurain's record of five successive Tour wins.
1 Carlos Sastre (Sp)
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) at 1'01"
3 Haimar Zubeldia (Sp) at 1'01"
4 Lance Armstrong (US) at 1'08"
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) at 1'18"
6 Ivan Basso (It) at 1'18"
7 Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp) at 1'24"
8 Iban Mayo (Sp) at 1'59"
9 Christophe Moreau (Fr) at 2'32"
10 Tyler Hamilton (US) at 2'32"