Pierre Rolland attacked before the penultimate stage of the Tour de France had even truly begun in a bid to win the polka-dot jersey from Chris Froome, but that was fine by the Team Sky man as long as he ended the day in yellow.
With only today's 125km stage to Annecy-Semnoz standing between Froome and a victory march into Paris tomorrow, he was keeping things steady alongside his team-mates near the front of the peloton.
Rolland, wearing the famous polka dots today after moving up to second in the category yesterday, was desperate to make it his and attacked the peloton before they had even ridden through the neutral zone at the start of the stage.
He was initially joined by the Tour's grand old man Jens Voigt, likely riding his final Tour at the age of 41, along with Marcus Burghardt and Juan Antonio Flecha.
Rolland led them over the first of the day's categorised climbs, the Cote du Puget and then, after the break swelled to 10, he followed Igor Anton over the Col de Leschaux, by now enjoying a virtual lead over Froome in the classification.
Froome had said before the stage he had little interest in the polka-dot jersey, despite having the opportunity to be the first man since Eddy Merckx in 1970 to win both yellow and polka-dot in the same Tour, and to become the first Brit to be crowned King of the Mountains since Robert Millar in 1984.
It was Flecha who led the pack through the intermediate sprint, their lead at that point a little over a minute from the peloton.
Back in the main group Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish beat Peter Sagan to the line, but it was not enough to prevent Sagan taking an unassailable lead in the points classification, meaning the Cannondale rider need only make it to Paris to retain the green jersey he won last year.
Rolland was back to the front by the time they scaled the third climb, the Cote d'Aillon-le-Vieux, adding another two points to his tally.
And the Europcar rider was there once again on the fourth climb on the Col de Pres, but only after a fierce battle with Anton in which he almost rode the Spaniard off the road (see the video above) - tactics which were reviewed by the commissaires before the points were awarded.
But although Rolland had cleaned up on the first four climbs, the toughest ascents were still ahead, and with the break's lead still under a minute, the Frenchman could not rest.
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