Frenchman Pierre Rolland claimed an epic 11th stage victory on the Tour de France Thursday as race leader Bradley Wiggins of Britain took another step towards overall victory.
Rolland soloed over the finish line after an epic day of racing to claim his second victory in the race a year after his maiden win at Alpe d'Huez and hand Europcar their second win in as many days.
The yellow jersey group of Wiggins came over the finish line of the 148 km stage from Albertville 59sec later. It included Italian contender Vincenzo Nibali and Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck.
Wiggins came under attack several times on the final 18km climb to La Toussuire -- notably by Nibali and Van den Broeck.
However thanks to the help of Sky teammate Chris Froome the Englishman was ultimately able to reel them in and then drop defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia.
Evans, the 2011 champion, ran out of steam in the final kilometres of the climb to finish over a minute behind Wiggins and see his bid for a successful defence severely compromised.
Rolland's victory comes a day after teammate Thomas Voeckler claimed his first stage win this year at Bellegarde-Sur-Valserine. – AFP