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Cycling: Cadel Evans beats Alberto Contador in dramatic Tour de France finish

Alberto Contador was beaten to victory by Cadel Evans in a dramatic finish to the fourth stage of the Tour de France in Brittany.

The 172.5-kilometre route from Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne was staged in damp conditions and featured rolling hills and a category three climb to the finish.

It was akin to a northern European spring classic and suited stage one winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), who today was celebrating his 29th birthday.

But Contador, seeking to chip away at a deficit of one minute 42 seconds from the previous three days of racing, made his move, only for Evans to come around him in the finishing straight to take the victory in a photo finish.

It was a second Tour stage win for the Australian, the runner-up in 2007 and 2008.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) was third, as Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) finished in the front group to retain the race leader's yellow jersey.

The day's five-man breakaway, which began after 9km, featured Spanish duo Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Imanol Ervitti (Movistar), Frenchmen Blel Kadri (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Jeremy Roy (FDJ) and Holland's Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil).

Hoogerland led the escapees over the intermediate sprint, with Mark Cavendish taking ninth place as Tyler Farrar - the winner of stage three - led the peloton over the line to take 10 points in the race for the green jersey.

BMC Racing and Omega Pharma-Lotto, riding for Evans and Gilbert, respectively, were leading the way at the front of the peloton for much of the day, with Garmin-Cervelo working for maillot jaune Hushovd, doing a turn in the final 30km.

Evans, like Bradley Wiggins earlier in the day, suffered a mechanical problem and had to be paced back to the bunch - an extra effort which may have affected the finale.

The breakaway was caught with little more than 4km remaining before the squads then battled for position at the foot of the final ascent out of Mur-de-Bretagne.

Contador attacked with 1.3km remaining, with Gilbert in pursuit, along with Evans, Frank Schleck and others.

The attacks continued without any advantage gained before defending champion Contador accelerated again in the finishing straight.

But Evans overtook the Spaniard - subject of a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing into his failed drugs test at last year's Tour next month - to take the win on the line.

Contador punched the air in celebration, but the still image of the finish showed it was the Australian's success.

A group of 10 riders finished on the same time, with Team Sky's Rigoberto Uran fourth, Gilbert fifth, Hushovd sixth and Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) seventh.

Team Sky leader Wiggins led a group of 31 riders over the line eight seconds behind and now lies in sixth place overall.

Wiggins' team-mate Geraint Thomas retained the white jersey for best young rider after also finishing in the second group.