Geraint Thomas bagged yet another top 10 finish at the Tour de France when leading Team Sky home in ninth on the tenth stage.
After a third, fifth and sixth place in the race so far, the Welshman was right in the mix once again when it mattered but could never quite get on terms with André Greipel and Mark Cavendish who fought out a thrilling battle, with Greipel just getting the better of his former team-mate.
The 158 kilometres stage from Aurillac to Carmaux was run at a blistering pace throughout, none more so than at the finish after the pack came back together on the downhill sweep to the finish.
By that point Cavendish's HTC-Highroad lead-out train had been thinned out and he launched a long sprint for the line, leading the field round the final corner in Carmaux.
However Omega Pharma-Lotto's Greipel, riding in his first Tour de France, had him in his sights and cut him down in the closing stages to win by a wheel.
The duo were team-mates and outspoken rivals last season, with Greipel denied his chance to ride in cycling's biggest event by Cavendish's presence in the HTC squad.
There was consolation for Cavendish as his second place and points picked up in the day's intermediate sprint saw him cut the gap markedly on Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) in the battle for the sprinters' green jersey.
As far as the yellow jersey is concerned, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) continues to lead the way, maintaining his lead of one minute and 49 seconds to Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank), with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) in third.
For Team Sky Edvald Boasson Hagen was 15th while Rigoberto Urán, Christian Knees and Simon Gerrans all finished in the front group.
But perhaps the best news was Juan Antonio Flecha being able to complete the stage just 48 hours after his horrific fall when he was knocked down by a car when part of a five-man breakaway.
Flecha crossed the line 5:33 back, just in front of Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) who had also been catapulted off the road as a result of that collision on Sunday.
And there was an encouraging bulletin afterwards from Team Sky's Sports Director Sean Yates who told us: "It was Flecha’s first day back - he was able to get through it and actually felt surprisingly good which is great for him and us.
"Another few days surviving should see him come round for the middle couple of stages between the Pyrenees and the Alps."
In terms of the stage as a whole, Yates' opinion that it would end in a bunch sprint was again on the mark. He explained: "Looking at the roads beforehand and then at the make-up of the break when it went, in my opinion it was always going to get brought back.
"In the end we didn’t get a placing but the final was hard and with Gilbert attacking on that final climb it strung it out a lot.
"I was pleased to see Rigoberto safely in that front group as he had been suffering a bit since that crash with Bradley (Wiggins) and the mountains are looming. Luckily his injury seems to be getting better and he’ll be giving it his best shot between now and the finish."
Before the race hits the Pyrenees, there's stage 11 which takes the riders from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur and Yates is expecting another field sprint, adding: "There are certain days you have to just take them for what they are and tomorrow it a case in point - it definitely looks one for a bunch finish."
We also caught up with Xabier Zandio to get his take on the race so far and he told us: "I am really enjoying the Tour and so far things have been going well for me. I have been able to avoid a lot of the crashes and I also managed to get myself in a break a few days ago as well. It was nice to get that opportunity and when Flecha also joined us, I was able to do some good work for him.
"My original job in the team was to work for Bradley but now he has gone I will be working for Rigoberto, who we are hoping can do well in the white jersey competition. I was able to keep him out of trouble today and thankfully everything ran relatively smoothly.
"The racing here has been pretty hectic so far and really nervous. It's unlike any other in that respect. We're expecting it to come down to a sprint tomorrow so I will be watching out for Rigo again whilst the other guys try and set something up for either Edvald or Swifty. They are both looking really strong at the moment, and G as well, so it would be great to get another win. I hope we can achieve that."
Story of the day
Tuesday's stage had begun with a shower of hailstones at the start in Aurillac before six riders - Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil), Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Sebastien Minard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun), Julien El Fares (Cofidis) and Remy Di Gregorio (Astana) - formed the day's breakaway after 16km.
The escapees were caught at the foot of the day's final climb, the category four Cote de Mirandol-Bourgnounac.
Gilbert forced the pace, seeking to avoid a mass finish, while Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), wearing the race leader's yellow jersey, went with the Belgian, along with three other riders - Tony Gallopin (Cofidis), Dries Devenyns (QuickStep) and HTC-Highroad's Tony Martin.
Voeckler led the group over the summit, 15km from the finish, but the peloton were within striking distance.
Gilbert broke clear after 8km but the undulating terrain allowed the peloton to catch him inside the final 5km.
Counter attacks began - including from Britain's David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo) - but HTC-Highroad kept the chasing pack in the hunt.
However, the finale threw the stage wide open and Cavendish, despite leading into the short home straight was beaten to the line by Greipel, with Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) third.