Britain's David Millar put his struggles in the Tour de France behind him to claim the penultimate stage on Saturday.
The Scot, in wet conditions, covered the 49km time trial from Pornic to Nantes
in 54 minutes five seconds, despite falling near the finish line.
Aided by a strong tailwind, he averaged 54.358km/h, the second fastest in Tour history, just
behind the 1989 record of 54.545km/h set by Greg LeMond.
He was nine seconds ahead of
Tyler Hamilton with race leader Lance
Armstrong third, 14 seconds behind.
It was Millar's third stage win in the Tour after he won the prologue in 2000 and the stage to Beziers in
The stage victory marked a reversal of fortunes for the 26-year-old who lost the prologue when his chain
came off close to the finish.
In the second week he went down with bronchitis and was close to pulling out of the race as he battled the illness.
"As they say in cycling, the wheel turns and today it was my
turn to have some good luck after so much bad luck and so much
suffering," Millar said.
"This wasn't revenge for the prologue. There were no bad
feelings after everything that happened. I'm just happy. I'm in
Millar was one of the early riders away on the stage and had to sit and wait at the finish to see if his time would be overhauled.
"I've become very pessimistic in the Tour after the prologue
and I was convinced that I wasn't going to win," Millar said.
"I didn't want to watch the race on television in public and
closed myself in the team camper van with my team-mates.
admitted I'd won when Lance crossed the line and I saw I'd set a
faster time," Millar said.
Millar had criticisd his Cofidis team after his mechanical problems in the prologue but
dedicated the stage victory to the team.
"This is for my Cofidis team, my team-mates and the team
personnel. They've put up with me, with my ups and my downs,
especially in the last three weeks," he said.
"I wasn't going to try hard in the time trial but they
convinced me and after all the work they've done for me, I had
to go for it. Now I'm glad I did."
The stage win helpd Millar move two places up the general classification to 55th, one hour 54 minutes and 53 seconds behind Armstrong.