Marcel Kittel overpowered Mark Cavendish in a photo finish to take his third stage win of the 100th Tour de France.
Cavendish got the lead-out he wanted from Gert Steegmans but then saw Kittel come from a bike-and-a-half’s length back to take the win.
The margin at the line was half a wheel, but the sight of Cavendish losing a sprint finish from such a position of strength was a major surprise.
Cavendish had been looking for a 25th career Tour stage win, which would have moved him level with Andre Leducq for third all-time in Tour history, but will instead be left to reflect on yet another frustrating day in France.
Although he won stage five to Marseille, he has otherwise endured setbacks and disappointments when he hoped to be racking up victories and competing for the points leader's green jersey.
This time, Cavendish could not point the finger at his Omega Pharma-Quick Step lead-out as they beat Kittel’s Team Argos-Shimano squad to the final straight.
Points leader Peter Sagan came home third, and now leads Cavendish by 96 points in the battle for the green jersey.