Australian Robbie McEwen surged 150 metres from the finish to win the 207-km fourth stage of the Tour de France from Huy to Saint-Quentin on Wednesday.
The Davitamon rider crossed the line at least two full bicycle lengths in front of his rivals, for his second stage win in three days.
Spaniard Isaac Galvez of the Caisse d'Epargne team was second and Rabobank rider Oscar Freire third.
Overall leader Tom Boonen finished fifth to retain the yellow jersey, one second ahead of Australian Michael Rogers (T-Mobile). American George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) remained third, five seconds adrift of Boonen.
"The final suited me because the last straight was a little bit uphill," said McEwen who now has 10 Tour stage wins to his name.
"I have a marvellous team and my last 'puller', Gert Steegmans, is like a train engine. I died a thousand deaths on the way to the line but I made it," added McEwen who took the lead in the points standings from Boonen.
After a nervous start and several escape bids, the real breakaway of the day came 18 km into the stage.
Britain's Bradley Wiggins, Spaniard Egoi Martinez and Frenchmen Laurent Lefevre, Cedric Coutouly and Christophe Mengin had a maximum lead of five minutes on a route that did not boast any undue difficulty.
The break, however, was doomed to fail in the last part of the flat course when Boonen's Quick Step team started rolling in.
One by one, Wiggins, Mengin and Coutouly gave away in the last 10 km. Lefevre and Martinez were caught two kilometres from the line.
For the first time in five days, few incidents were reported.
New Zealand's Julian Dean of the Credit Agricole team went down during the bunch sprint with 200 metres to go but managed to cross the line only suffering from a few bruises.
Spaniard Iban Mayo, leader of the Caisse d'Epargne team, crashed earlier in the stage but remounted and rejoined the bunch with the help of four team mates.
American Phonak rider Floyd Landis punctured his rear tyre but was back in the race a few minutes later.
The stage started with 172 riders after Erik Dekker of the Netherlands, American Fred Rodriguez and Spaniard Alejandro Valverde pulled out with shoulder or collarbone injuries after crashing on Tuesday.