Team Sky’s Chris Froome claimed the Tour de France overall leader’s yellow jersey with an inspirational win on stage eight.
The 28-year-old attacked on the final climb to the summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines ahead of teammate Richie Porte after escapee Nairo Quintana had been caught on the category one ascent.
It gives British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider Froome a 51 second advantage over Porte in the general classification and distance ahead of his rivals Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans.
Both struggled as Froome rode away, Contador coming over the line one minute and 45 seconds behind while Evans was over four minutes back.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Froome, who also leads the mountain classification after his triumph, said. “It really has been a nervous week building up to now but my team have done a fantastic job.
“We have come through this first week in a really good position and being able to do that and being able to repay my teammates with a stage win and Richie coming second, we couldn’t have asked for more.
“This is the real first GC day and to have come out and won it with first and second is a dream come true so far.
“We were out under pressure and this is only the first week of the Tour, there is definitely going to be a lot of hard racing to come and now we’ve got the yellow jersey we are going to have to defend it. I really couldn’t have asked for much more today.”
Earlier Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM), Jean-Marc Marino (Sojasun), Christophe Riblon (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis) had established a lead of over nine minutes from the peloton after the first and smallest climb of the stage, the category four Côte de Saint-Ferréol.
But as they negotiated the hors categorie Col de Pailhères, the largest pass of the Tour ascending 2001 metres, the complexion of the race changed.
First Riblon attacked his breakaway companions before Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) bridged the gap, temporarily riding with the Frenchman before pushing ahead and establishing a one minute gap back to the now depleted peloton.
With Briton and Tour debutant Peter Kennaugh driving Team Sky’s chase, Quintana’s lead dwindled and as he was caught with less than seven-kilometres to go, Froome launched his successful bid for the stage victory and yellow jersey and was followed by Porte to complete a satisfying day for Team Sky.
Froome will now have to defend the jersey with 13 stages remaining and added: “I think we've got to take advantage of every uphill finish and every GC day that there is.
"We've got the time trial coming up and this is really an ultimate position to be in. I feel really privileged to be here.
“After the team time trial we were in a very good position even if it was a very small margin we were still well poised for today but there are only several mountain top finishes and so it was the plan to really go for it today and take advantage of the hard finish.”
1 FROOME Christopher Sky Procycling 05:03:18
2 PORTE Richie Sky Procycling 00:51
3 VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro Movistar Team 01:08
4 MOLLEMA Bauke Belkin Pro Cycling Team 01:10
5 TEN DAM Laurens Belkin Pro Cycling Team 01:16
6 NIEVE ITURALDE Mikel Euskaltel - Euskadi 01:34
7 KREUZIGER Roman Team Saxo-Tinkoff 01:45
8 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto Team Saxo-Tinkoff ,,
9 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander Movistar Team ,,
10 ANTON HERNANDEZ Igor Euskaltel - Euskadi ,
1 FROOME Christopher Sky Procycling 32:15:55
2 PORTE Richie Sky Procycling 00:51
3 VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro Movistar Team 01:25
4 MOLLEMA Bauke Belkin Pro Cycling Team 01:44
5 TEN DAM Laurens Belkin Pro Cycling Team 01:50
6 KREUZIGER Roman Team Saxo-Tinkoff 01:51
7 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto Team Saxo-Tinkoff ,,
8 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander Movistar Team 02:02
9 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquim Katusha Team 02:31
10 ROGERS Michael Team Saxo-Tinkoff 02:40