Javier Otxoa of Spain has won the mountainous tenth stage of this year's Tour de France. He braved some atrocious weather to ride home ahead of the defending champion, Lance Armstrong of the United States.
Another Spaniard, Jose Maria Jimenez finished third.
There was also good news for Switzerland's top hope, Alex Zülle. He battled home in tenth place, three minutes and 47 seconds behind the winner. Zülle is now lying in 13th place in the overall standings.
Otxoa won the energy sapping 205-km climb from Dax to Lourdes-Hautcam in a time of six hours, nine minutes and 32 seconds. The Spaniard was one of four riders who managed to break away from the peloton in the first half of the race and he held on to his lead even though Armstrong was hauling him in during the final ascent.
Armstrong's late climb, saw him move past rivals Marco Pantani of Italy and the local favourite, France's Richard Virenque - both of them mountain specialists. The American finished just 42 seconds behind the stage winner and takes over the yellow jersey with a lead of more than four minutes over the second-placed rider, Germany's Jan Ullrich.
After the race, Zülle said he was still hopeful of a podium finish when the Tour reaches its climax in Paris. "I felt good today. I tried to attack Armstrong and Pantani, but I quickly realised I couldn't push any harder. I thought I'd take more time out of my main rivals. But I'm not disappointed. The Tour's not over yet."
swissinfo with agencies
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