Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano has beaten Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol right on the line to win a windy Stage Ten of the Tour de France in a photo finish.
Kittel, with his second win in this edition of Le Tour having taken out Stage One in Bastia, took the inside line and edged out his fellow German, with Briton Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finishing third in a hectic sprint in Saint-Malo.
A nasty crash right before the line took out of Kittel’s teammate in Tom Veelers, the Dutch rider coming off second-best after coming into contact with Cavendish.
Chris Froome (Sky) finished safe in the main group and retained his yellow jersey, while Pierre Rolland (Europcar) kept his polka dot jersey and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) holds onto the Green.
Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) wears the white jersey for the best young rider.
Resuming after the rest day, the 182 remaining riders of the 2013 Tour de France were faced with a 197 kilometre stage through Brittainy.
The course, from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo, was relatively flat, with only one intermediate sprint followed shortly after by the only climb, a mild category 4.
Five men broke from the peloton at the start of the race and stayed out front for most of the day.
Luis Mate (Cofidis), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Julien Simon (Sojasun), Jerome Cousin (Europcar) and Juan Oroz (Euskaltel Euskadi) were each in no position to challenge the leaders in the general classification, so were left to their own devices.
Mate took the maximum twenty points in the only intermediate sprint at Le Hingle, 70kilometres from the finish, with Westra (17), Simon (15), Cousin (13) and Oroz (11) rounding out the top five.
When the peloton reached the mark, Andre Greipel took the remaining sprinter’s points from Sagan and Cavendish.
Westra took the lone point in the King of the Mountains on the cote de Dinan with 55 kilometres still to ride.
A strong wind troubled the riders all day, shifting from crosswind to headwind as the route twisted and turned, so the sprinters teams kept their men at the front in order to stay in contention for a win should the peloton be split up.
The contenders in the GC also kept pace at the front to avoid any mishaps that might cost them time.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Lotto-Belisol, BMC, Sao-Tinkoff and Sky all took turns driving the pace in pursuit of the group ahead the more the race progressed.
At 40 kilometres to go and with the gap to the lead group still 2:20, Sky upped the ante at the front of the peloton, increasing their workload and the pace of the chase.
2 kilometres later it was taking its toll, with the gap down reduced to two minutes and the breakaway soon to be reeled in.
They didn’t give up, however, and at 28km, Oroz attacked and opened up a small gap on the other four riders, who took a little time to get organised and bring him back into what was now a headwind.
Westra then decided he’d had enough shortly after and went back to the peloton, leaving four riders at the front.
At 20 kilometres, it was under half a minute and Alberto Contador was driving the pace at the front of the peloton with his Saxo-Tinkoff team, keeping him out of trouble.
It was only inside the last 6 kilometres that the peloton finally caught the leaders, the main group having had to chase for 191km.
Stuart O’Grady of Orica-GreenEDGE then came to the front to get Matt Goss into a good position for the sprint, with Omega-Pharma Quick Step sending men out to join him, but it was Argos-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol who dominated the final sprint for the German one-two.
Tomorrow’s Stage Eleven is the 33 kilometre individual time-trial from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel.