France's Thomas Voeckler led a five-rider breakaway to win the 10th stage of the Tour de France as the race entered the Alps on Wednesday.

Bradley Wiggins retained the overall lead.

The 194.5-kilometer ride from Macon-sur-Valserine marked a return to racing after Tuesday's tumultuous rest day in which a Cofidis rider was suspended by his team following his arrest by police in a doping probe.

Voeckler, the Europcar rider who wore the yellow jersey for 10 days last year, collected his third Tour stage victory from a decade in cycling's premier race.

With a few kilometers to go, Voeckler dusted off the breakaway group, winning over runner-up Michele Scarponi of Italy by 3 seconds. Jens Voigt of Germany - at 40 the oldest rider this year -was third, four seconds slower.

"(stage win) is really special because we had criticism before the Tour, because it really hurt me"

Thomas Voeckler

Overall, Wiggins leads second-placed Cadel Evans, the defending champion, by 1:53. Wiggins' Sky teammate Christopher Froome was third, 2:07 back.

For the first time in the Tour, the peloton scaled the 17.4-kilometer Grand Colombier pass - classified as one of the hardest climbs in pro cycling in part for two tough patches with steep, 12 percent gradients.

"I really pulled this out with my guts,'' Voeckler said.

"I only knew I'd won with about 5 meters left.''

Voeckler said he didn't ride for about 10 of the 20 days immediately preceding the Tour start because of knee pain that still hasn't fully dissipated.

Doping cases past and present have cast a shadow over this Tour. Just days before the Tour, news emerged of an investigation by French state prosecutors into allegations of improper use of a controlled corticoid by Europcar in the
Tour last year - claims the team has vigorously denied.

Voeckler said the stage win "is really special because we had criticism before the Tour, because it really hurt me.''

Some fans in Belgium at the start of the Tour on June 30 booed Europcar riders in the wake of the news.

"In a small way, my victory today was an answer to that,'' Voeckler said.

Source: Agencies