Michal Kwiatkowski took a superb solo win on stage 13 of the Tour de France as Tadej Pogacar clawed back more time on race leader Jonas Vingegaard.
Poland’s Kwiatkowski, 33, rode clear on the imposing 17.4km climb to the summit finish on Grand Colombier on the race’s first day in the Alps.
An explosive attack from two-time race winner Pogacar saw him create a gap to Vingegaard in the final 400 metres.
That cut the defending champion’s lead from 17 seconds to nine.
Slovenia’s Pogacar was able to take four seconds on the road and the last of the bonus seconds after his UAE Team Emirates’ squad had controlled the pace up the concluding ascent.
However, they were unable to reel in Ineos Grenadiers rider Kwiatkowski, who was originally part of a powerful 19-man breakaway to escape on the flat start to the 137.8km stage from Chatillon-Sur-Chalaronne.
“We had a nice advantage before the final climb,” said Kwiatkowski, who timed his effort to perfection, accelerating past a group containing British debutant James Shaw.
“That was a crazy experience. The break had a free ticket to the bottom of the climb, but I didn’t think we could make it to the finish because UAE was pulling hard behind.
“I found out I had the best legs I’ve had in my life. I didn’t believe it was possible. The final climb was very long – the most brutal effort in my life.”
Kwiatkowski’s only other stage win at the Tour came in La Roche-sur-Foron in 2020.
A year on from Tom Pidcock’s triumph on Bastille Day on the Alpe d’Huez, the former world champion, who has often taken on the role of a super domestique, delivered again for the British team.
On a good day for the Ineos Grenadiers, Pidcock, rolled over the line nine seconds adrift of Vingegaard, in fifth, while Carlos Rodriguez was 11th, a further 17 seconds back.
Shaw ended up a creditable seventh, with his compatriots Simon and Adam Yates crossing in ninth and 10th, respectively, to leapfrog Spanish rider Pello Bilbao in the general classification standings.
Saturday will see the second of three successive mountain stages which appear to be crucial in the battle for this year’s yellow jersey.
The 151.8km route from Annemasse to Morzine Les Portes du Soleil contains four categorised climbs prior to the hors categorie Col de Joux Plane and a high-speed descent to the finish.
Stage 13 results
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Ineos Grenadiers) 3hrs 17mins 33secs
2. Maxim Van Gils (Bel/Lotto-Dstny) +47secs
3. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) +50secs
4. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo-Visma) +54secs
5. Tom Pidcock (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +1min 3secs
6. Jai Hindley (Aus/Bora-Hansgrohe) +1min 5secs
7. James Shaw (GB/EF Education-EasyPost) Same time
8. Harold Tejada (Col/Astana-Qazaqstan)
9. Simon Yates (GB/Jayco-AlUla) +1min 14secs
10. Adam Yates (GB/UAE Team Emirates) +1min 18secs
General classification standings
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo-Visma) 53hrs 48mins 50secs
2. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) +9secs
3. Jai Hindley (Aus/Bora-Hansgrohe) +2mins 51secs
4. Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa/Ineos Grenadiers) +4mins 48secs
5. Adam Yates (GB/UAE Team Emirates) +5mins 3secs
6. Simon Yates (GB/Team Jayco-AlUla) +5mins 4secs
7. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Bahrain Victorious) +5mins 25secs
8. Tom Pidcock (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +5mins 35secs
9. David Gaudu (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) +6mins 52secs
10. Sepp Kuss (US/Jumbo-Visma) +7mins 11secs