By the time they picked off Huzarski, however, the former world champion had sat up and returned to the bunch, which Tinkoff and BMC Racing were setting the pace for.
Four became five as they absorbed Gougeard – he and Huzarski no more than passengers in the leading group after their earlier exertions – but BMC Racing continued to close the gap.
Huzarski and Gougeard paid for their efforts and were dropped from the front group while the counter-punches continued further behind – Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) jumping clear.
Henao was content to sit on Navarro’s wheel, but the Spaniard’s efforts were sufficient to catch the front three only for the peloton to close the gap on the final bend.
It set up a thrilling finale, with Herrada accelerating around the outside to claim the stage win.
Further back, Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) suffered a tangle of wheels with team-mate Alexis Vuillermoz to hamper his GC hopes, while Contador still leads second-placed Richie Porte by six seconds.