Ruben Plaza of Lampre-Merida won his first ever stage of the Tour de France after he made an attack stick on the Col de Manse.
Peter Sagan, meanwhile, could only finish second on stage 16 which was littered with incidents.
Team Sky's Chris Froome successfully defended his Yellow Jersey and only dropped 16" to Astana's Vincenzo Nibali who attacked on the fast descent into Gap.
The biggest incident of the day came in the final few kilometres when Warren Barguil collided with Team Sky's Geraint Thomas who was sent face first into a telegraph pole and then down a ditch.
The resilient Welshman was helped back onto his bike by a French spectator and amazingly managed to finish just 40" behind the Yellow Jersey group to maintain his sixth place in general classification.
Heading for the mountains
Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan did most of the pace-making up the Col de Manse for the breakaway, building a 20'00"+ gap to the peloton, however couldn't catch Plaza and finished second yet again.
Jarlinson Pantano, the 26-year-old Colombian IAM Cycling rider, claimed third place on the day of his country of birth's independence.
A long way back down the road Froome's rivals were doing their best to gain back some valuable time before entering the Alps. The first to launch an attack was Nibali, who successfully stayed away bought himself 16" back from Froome in GC.
In the melee of rounding a corner on the decent into Gap, Barguil of Giant-Alpecin careered into Thomas who collided with a telegraph pole before falling down the verge but managed to get back up and was paced back into the race by a Sky team mate.
From the start the break was allowed to get away and Lotto-Soudal's Australian rider, Adam Hansen, took advantage and attacked the initial breakaway at 46km to go and by 41km had built up a gap of 31 seconds to the chasing group. At 36km Hansen was joined in attack by the Austrian Road Race Champion, Katusha's Marco Haller.
While the breakaway of Hansen and Haller was attacking the original breakaway, the time gap to the peloton was opening up to the largest it had been all Tour - 19'00", however this wasn't a worry for Yellow Jersey holder Chris Froome who had a significant enough time gap in general classification to not need to chase anyone down.
Stage Winner emerges
Hansen and Haller were caught inside 19km on the Col de Manse, a category two climb, and Lampre-Merida's Ruben Plaza assumed control at the front of the race with a group of riders including Peter Sagan giving pursuit.
Plaza topped the Col de Manse with less than a minutes advantage to the group of Sagan as they plunged down the tricky 10km section to the finish in Gap.
Sagan and IAM rider, Jarlinson Pantano, got separation from the group in an attempt to beat Plaza to the win however couldn't complete the effort and had to settle for second and third respectively.
Tuesday is a much needed rest day, especially for the likes of Thomas after his crash, before Wednesday's 161km stage from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup, a route lined with five categorised climbs including the category one mountain, Col d'Allos.