Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) made helped Mark Cavendish reach the finish at l'Alpe d'Huez to ensure he kept the green points jersey but the veteran Austrian had to fight all the way to the finish line.
The time limit cut off flashed constantly at the finish and the gruppetto actually crossed the line 18 seconds outside it. But Eisel revealed that technical race director Jean-Francois Pescheux gave him a reassuring nod because the seconds are rounded up.
Eisel has given his all to help Cavendish in the mountains but suffered himself on the Col du Télégraphe and Galibier. He revealed how David Millar helped him survive on the climbs after the two were dropped early in the stage.
David Millar himself wrote in a string of tweets:
"Bernie Eisel & I formed an eternal bond today. We were off the back on our own within the first few km's of Telegraph. Seemed Game Over."
"We'd each have good & bad patches. During one of my bad patches I told Bernie just to go, 'Davie, we go home together, or Paris together.' Camaraderie transcends teams on occasions, that was one of them. Mind you, he scared the bajesus out of me on the descent of the Galibier."
Not surprisingly Eisel was glad to see the back of the Alps. His last big effort will be making sure Cavendish win the sprint on the Champs Elysees on Sunday and so takes the green points jersey.