Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) won stage ten of the 2013 Tour de France in a dramatic photo finish in Saint-Melo, while Chris Froome (Team Sky) retained the yellow jersey.
With Kittel’s team mate Tim Veelers crashing at speed in the bunch sprint, Kittel kept his composure to outsprint compatriot Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), who had appeared favourite after a perfect lead-out.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), who touched shoulders with Veelers moments before his fall, came in third, while green jersey leader, Peter Sagan (Cannondale), was fourth.
Meanwhile, Froome’s yellow jersey never looked under threat on a much easier stage for Team Sky after their tribulations in the Pyrenees on Sunday.
From the flag, a five-man break of Jérôme Cousin (Europcar), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Luis Mate (Cofidis), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Julien Simon (Sojasun) formed, quickly establishing a five-minute lead.
Setting a quick pace over the flat stage, the escapees kept their average speed comfortably above 40km/h as the sprinters’ teams drove the peloton behind them.
With the lead held at a steady four minutes, the pace dropped over the punchy, uncategorised climbs but the peloton did not up the pace until the intermediate sprint with 69.5km remaining.
Mate was first over the line to almost double Cofidis’ earnings from this Tour, with Westra, Simon, Oroz and Cousin following.
Green jersey contenders Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) contested it from the peloton, with the German champion outsprinting his rivals.
As the lead narrowed, Westra went off the front of the break to take the solitary climbing point on offer on the category four Cote de Dinan.
His move had the desired effect as his fellow escapees caught him and upped the pace to keep themselves 2’30” clear of the bunch as they entered the final 50km.
However, the peloton continued to keep them under control with Lotto-Belisol, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, and Argos-Shimano leading the bunch.
They upped the pace 10km later to gradually eat away at the break’s lead and Team Saxo-Tinkoff got riders at the front to further hasten the chase.
Westra eventually rejoined the bunch, shortly after Vacansoleil-DCM team mate Juan Antonio Flecha crashed on a roundabout.
The crash heightened the nerves in the peloton with the coastal winds posing some problems, but the now four-man break was eventually caught inside the final six kilometres.
Lotto-Belisol appeared to have led Greipel to victory, but Kittel found an extra burst on the line to beat his compatriot and claim his second stage win of this year’s Tour after claiming victory in Corsica on the opening stage.
Tour de France 2013 – stage ten result
1 Marcel Kittel (GER) Argos-Shimano 4:53:25hrs
2 Andre Greipel (GER) Lotto-Belisol same time
3 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4 Peter Sagan (SVK) Cannondale
5 William Bonnet (FRA) FDJ
6 Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katusha
7 Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) Ag2r-La Mondiale
8 Kevin Reza (FRA) Europcar
9 Danny Van Poppel (NED) Vacansoleil-DCM
10 Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) Movistar
1 Chris Froome (GBR) Sky Procycling 41:52:43hrs
2 Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar +1’25”
3 Bauke Mollema (NED) Belkin Pro Cycling +1’44”
4 Laurens Ten Dam (NED) Belkin Pro Cycling +1’50”
5 Roman Kreuziger (CZE) Team Saxo-Tinkoff +1’51”
6 Alberto Contador (ESP) Team Saxo-Tinkoff same time
7 Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar +2’02”
8 Daniel Martin (IRL) Garmin-Sharp +2’28”
9 Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP) Katusha +2’31”
10 Rui Costa (POR) Movistar +2’45”