Marcel Kittel continued his fine form in this year’s Tour de France after the German won a keenly contested sprint finish to claim stage 12.
The day’s ride took the peloton over 218km of relatively flat terrain from Fougères to Tours in central France.
It was the ideal stage for the breakaway with five men going out in front for most of the day.
With six kilometres to go the last of the escapees was caught leaving the main bunch to get their sprinters ready for the mad dash to the line.
The run in was marred by a nasty-looking crash with just under three kilometres to go.
Fortunately it looked worse than it actually was and the dozen or so riders were all back in the saddle again after untangling their bikes.
Out in front the sprint was on.
Mark Cavendish looked like he was going to top the podium once again but the Manx missile couldn’t match the speed of Kittel who powered over the line for his third win of the 100th edition of the race.
A frustrated Cavendish had to settle for second place while Peter Sagan rounded off the podium in third.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome finished safely in the bunch to retain his leader’s yellow jersey three minutes and 25 seconds clear of Alejandro Valverde ahead of stage 13’s 173 km ride to Saint-Amand-Montrond.
Special report: 100 years of the Tour de France