|Cadel Evans is helped after stopping for a flat tire during the fourth stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Joel Saget/Pool)
MUR-DE-BRETAGNE, France -- Cadel Evans of Australia held off Spain's Alberto Contador in a photo finish to capture Stage 4 of the 2011 Tour de France.
Norway's Thor Hushovd finished sixth on Tuesday with the same time as the stage winner and will keep the coveted yellow jersey as the overall leader of cycling's most prestigious event for a third straight day.
Evans finished the 172.5-km jaunt from Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne in a time of four hours, 11 minutes and 39 seconds, edging the three-time Tour champion by a fraction of a tire length for his first career Tour stage win.
"To win a stage here in the first week is a real bonus and I owe it all to my team," said Evans, who previously was placed first in a stage in 2007 after a rider was disqualified. "To try for the stage win -- and get it -- is already fantastic and now we'll look towards tomorrow and beyond."
Hushovd remains the overall leader by a single second over Evans, while Frank Schleck of Luxembourg is next, just four seconds off the lead pace. Schleck was seventh in Tuesday's stage.
Contador, the two-time defending champ, is still one minute, 42 seconds behind Hushovd. However, he moved up from 69th place to 41st.
With a steep climb at the finish, Contador -- who excels in the mountain stages -- tried to steal the stage win. Evans, though, was able to respond to each of the challenges.
"In the final sprint I was committed but I didn't want to launch too hard because I knew the others could have come around me," said Evans. "I saw Contador closing in on me, but I just had to hold him off. It came down to the throw to the line and right at the finish I couldn't even see who crossed the line first. I honestly didn't see it. I was just focused on reaching for the line. I really had to wait for the official result myself before I knew for sure that I'd won."
David Millar of Britain started the day with the same overall time as Hushovd, but finished eight seconds off the stage winner's pace and dropped to fourth overall.
Wednesday's fifth stage is a 164.5-km trek from Carhaix to Cap Frehel in northwestern France. The final 70 kms will take place along the coastline.
The 2011 Tour continues through July 24 and ends with the traditional ride along the Champs Elysees.