Spain's Luis-Leon Sanchez was triumphant on the 191-kilometre 14th stage from Limoux to Foix as Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins retained the yellow jersey entering the race's final week.
On a day which saw Wiggins claim the British record for a seventh day in the yellow jersey, beating Chris Boardman's record, Sanchez (Rabobank) soloed to victory.
Wiggins will next Sunday aim to keep the maillot jaune on a permanent basis as the Tour's first British winner, but first must negotiate the Pyrenees and six more days of racing.
The general classification was largely unchanged as Sanchez broke clear of his breakaway companions 11km from home to claim a fourth Tour stage success of his career.
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was 47 seconds behind in second, Sandy Casar (FDJ-Bigmat) third, Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) fourth and Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) fifth.
The route featured two category one climbs, with the concluding 3.5km of the second, the Mur de Peguere, on a punishing gradient.
But the summit of the Pyrenean peak was 38.5km from the finish and Wiggins was relatively untroubled as he rolled in as part of the peloton more than 18 minutes behind.
The Briton retained a two minute five seconds lead over Team Sky colleague and compatriot Chris Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) 2mins 23secs adrift in third.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) began the day 3:19 behind and despite a moment of alarm when he required his rear wheel to be changed three times, he remained fourth.
Wiggins required a bike change and there were early suggestions tacks had been thrown on to the road at the top of the climb, but initially it was not possible to verify the claims.