World champion Thor Hushovd today claimed his second stage win of the 2011 Tour de France with victory in a sprint finish in Gap.
Following yesterday's rest day, the Tour began the final six days of racing with today's 162.5-kilometre 16th stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap - a transitional route before the Alpine ascents which will decide who will stand on top of the podium in Paris on Sunday.
A 10-man breakaway was established after 90km and Hushovd broke clear along with Garmin-Cervelo team-mate Ryder Hesjedal and Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Hushovd, who won last Friday's stage to Lourdes, received help in the finale from Hesjedal to beat his compatriot Boasson Hagen to the line.
It was also a good day for Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Hushovd's predecessor as world champion, who moved up to second overall, one minute 45 seconds behind Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), who retained the race leader's yellow jersey.
Evans today finished 11th, 4mins 23secs behind Hushovd and behind the rest of the day's breakaway.
Evans, runner-up in 2007 and 2008, followed an attack by defending champion Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard), who began the day four minutes behind Voeckler, and moved 3:42 behind the Frenchman in the overall rankings.
Contador finished 12th today, three seconds behind Evans, but crucially 1:06 ahead of Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek), the runner-up in each of the last two years. The Spaniard climbed to sixth overall.
Andy Schleck finished 5:32 behind today in 36th place, to fall 3:03 behind Voeckler, who finished 4:44 behind in a group which included Frank Schleck and Team Sky's Rigoberto Uran.
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) retained the points classification leader's green jersey.
Cavendish did not collect any points today, but his main challengers for the maillot vert, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) claimed just three and two points, respectively.
The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man now leads by 34 points from Rojas and 69 from Gilbert.