That Marcel Kittel’s Giant-Shimano sprint train had come to grief in the crosswinds – again – undoubtedly helped the Gorilla, who himself was shorn of his lead-out men.
But the German champion’s powerful kick to the line from some 250 metres back showed he is right back to his best as he earned a 13th victory of the season.
It had looked like working out very differently when Omega Pharma-Quickstep accelerated on the front inside the final ten kilometres, but Michal Kwiatkowski’s solo bid for glory under the flamme rouge fell short.
Nevertheless, with Mark Renshaw fourth and the team still looking in good shape, hopes of pulling off a stage win despite Mark Cavendish’s absence remain high.
It is in stark contrast to French champion Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr), however, who has suffered several crashes and is yet to repay the faith put in him when he was selected ahead of Nacer Bouhanni.
But what has it all taught us? Read our five observations over the following pages.