Team GB cyclist Bradley Wiggins played a watchful role at the start of the 148-kilometre 11th stage of the Tour de France from Albertville to La Toussuire today.
Wiggins predicted the route, featuring two hors categorie (beyond category) climbs would be the toughest day of the Tour, but he was content to allow a large early break to form on the day's first brutal ascent, the 25.3km Col de la Madeleine.
Irishman Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was part of the early break, which featured 26 riders, the best-placed being Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), who began the day seven minutes 14 seconds behind.
Two members of Vincenzo Nibali's Liquigas-Cannondale team were also in the break as the Italian, who started the day in fourth, 2mins 23secs behind, sought support in his bid to reduce the deficit.
Wiggins' Team Sky led the peloton, with Christian Knees handing over to Edvald Boasson Hagen midway up the Col de la Madeleine as the peloton remained within two minutes of the leaders.
The stage was set to finish at La Toussuire, which is infamous for being the stage which cracked Floyd Landis in 2006. The American recovered miraculously to win the following day's stage and was later stripped of the 2006 Tour title following a positive test for testosterone.
Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) led Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) going over the summit, with Wiggins' group three minutes behind.
Nibali and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) moved ahead before cresting the summit ahead of the long descent, but there was a long valley to negotiate before the second hors categorie climb, the Col de la Croix de Fer, the summit of which came 55km from the finish.