Bernucci and overall contender Alexandre Vinokourov were the only two riders to avoid a massive pile-up on a dangerous right-hand bend some 800 metres from the finishing line. The two finished a handful of seconds ahead of their closest pursuers, with 25-year-old Bernucci incredulous at having taken a stage in his first ever Tour, and Vinokourov more than satisfied with having regained 19 seconds on Armstrong.
Vinokourov's target was initially to overtake Frenchman Christophe Mengin, the last survivor of a day-long five-man break which had taken off in the first hour of racing. Following a breakneck descent where riders touched speeds of 100 kph despite the downpour, Mengin was on the point of being caught by Vinokourov when he hit the bales on the final corner. Vinokourov had to slow to avoid him which enabled Bernucci to slip past and take his first ever pro win, though the Kazakh did stay clear of the peloton. "If that hadn't happened then I would have taken the stage." Vinokourov said.
Most were uninjured, although Armstrong - held up, but who did not fall - crossed the finishing line with a face like thunder.
Alasdair Fotheringham writes for Cycling Weekly
Troyes to Nancy (199km): 1 L Bernucci (It) Fassa Bortolo 4hr 12min 52sec; 2 A Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team same time; 3 R Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner +0.07sec; 4 A Furlan (It) Domina Vacanze; 5 T Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole; 6 K Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo; 7 G Bortolami (It) Lampre-Caffita; 8 E Martinez (Sp) Euskaltel-Euskadi; 9 G Glomser (Aut) Lampre-Caffita; 10 K-A Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC; 11 L Brochard (Fr) Bouygues Telecom; 12 J Pineau (Fr) Bouygues Telecom; 13 M Giunti (It) Fassa Bortolo; 14 O Pereiro Sio (Sp) Phonak; 15 X Zandio (Sp) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne all s/t.
Overall leading positions: 1 L Armstrong (US) Discovery Channel 17hr 58min 11sec; 2 G Hincapie (US) Discovery Channel +55sec; 3 A Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile +1min 02sec; 4 J Voigt (Ger) Team CSC +1.04; 5 B Julich (US) Team CSC +1.07; 6 J L Rubiera (Sp) Discovery Channel +1.14; 7 Y Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel +1.16; 8 B Noval (Sp) Discovery Channel +1.26; 9 I Basso (It) Team CSC; 10 K-A Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC both +1.32.Reuse content