The Frenchman overcomes cramps to win the 10th stage of the Tour de France as the Briton keeps the yellow jersey for another day.
Tour de France: Thomas Voelker and Bradley Wiggins keep their cool
BELLEGARDE-SUR-VALSERINE, France // Britain's Bradley Wiggins retained the yellow jersey on the first day of the Tour de France in the Alps on Wednesday as France's Thomas Voeckler won the 10th stage.
Voeckler, of the Europcar team, capped an impressive game of cat and mouse with several rivals in the closing kilometres to claim his first victory of this year's race and third of his career.
Italian Michele Scarponi (Lampre) finished second three seconds back with German veteran Jens Voigt (RadioShack) third.
Wiggins retained his 1 min 53 sec overnight lead on BMC leader Cadel Evans, with Sky teammate Chris Froome still third overall and Italian Vincenzo Nibali fourth. Nibali was one of two riders, along with Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto) to try and attack Wiggins in a bid to close their respective deficits.
Van den Broeck tried twice, in vain, on the 17km climb to the summit of the Col du Grand Colombier while Nibali attacked on the descent.
Wiggins' Sky team, notably Australian Richie Porte, set a pace that quickly reeled the Italian in before the final, short climb to the summit of the Col de Richemond.
"I didn't panic when he attacked," said Wiggins. "He's over two minutes behind me and I knew he'd have to be really strong in the valley if he was to stay away."
Voeckler said finishing first was never a sure thing.
"I really didn't think I would win the stage until I was about five metres from the finish line," Voeckler said. "I was in extreme pain at the end. The only thing that kept me going was that I knew the others were feeling the same." His efforts over the climbs won him the polka dot jersey, but he admitted his stage win had been hard to come by.
"I suffered cramp when I went for the points at the summit of the Grand Colombier, but I thought 'Well at least that's the jersey in the bag'," the Frenchman said.
Thursday's 148 km 11th stage takes the peloton from Albertville over 73 km of climbing to the summit of La Toussuire ski station.
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