French rider Tony Gallopin led a late breakaway in a show of opportunism and savvy racing to win the 11th stage of the Tour de France as Italy's Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall lead.

The peloton returned to action after the race's first rest day with the 187.5km ride from Besancon to Oyonnax, not far from the Swiss border.

Gallopin, who wore the yellow jersey for a day before Nibali recaptured it, first tried to break away with about 13 1/2km left but got reeled in. Then, in a late flurry, with less than three kilometres to go, the Lotto-Belisol rider tried again. This time, it worked.

He chiseled out a lead of several seconds and, desperately pedaling, held off a surging pack in the final several hundred meters. Gallopin won by several bike lengths, just enough for him to have time to lift his arms in celebration, panting.

"Incredible,'' said Gallopin of his first Tour stage win. "I came to train for the Tour de France here ... that really served me today. It's really a victory that feels good.''

The top standings didn't change, because Nibali finished in the pack with the same time as Gallopin.

Source: AP