Germany’s André Greipel of the Lotto-Belisol team celebrated his first victory of this year’s edition of the Tour de France and fifth overall thanks to a fine sprint finish in Montpellier to claim stage six.
A few minor crashes marked the day’s 176.5 kilometer ride that started in Aix-en-Provence.
With 33 kilometres to go stage five winner Mark Cavendish hit the deck and was forced to make a bike change.
The Manx missile had to chase hard to get back into the main bunch, but did so with the help of Quickstep teammate Peter Velits.
Entering the final kilometre the Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano teams were setting the tempo and jockeying for the better position.
But it was 30-year-old Rostock native Greipel who made the most of his team’s efforts to burst out in front and cross the line by a bike’s length from Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, who was second for the third time in this 100th edition of the race.
Fellow German Marcel Kittel finished the day’s action in third while despite his fall Cavendish got himself back into contention but eventually had to settle for fourth.
Australian Simon Gerrans lost the overall lead to Orica-GreenEdge teammate Daryl Impey who became the first African to don the leader’s yellow jersey.
Stage seven is a 205.5 kilometre ride from Montpellier to Albi and features four climbs.