Cavendish room-mate Matteo Trentin wins stage 14
Italian Trentin won what turned into a mini-sprint finish as the remnants of a long 18-man breakaway contested the honours with Chris Froome and the rest of the peloton more than six minutes back down the road.
Cavendish won yesterday's stage 13 to Saint-Amand-Montrond but it was Trentin's turn today as Omega Pharma-Quick Step enjoyed their fourth stage success of the Tour.
The Tour debutant adds to Cavendish's two victories and Tony Martin's success in the individual time trial on Wednesday.
The thousands of fans lining the streets of Lyon had been desperately hoping to see Julien Simon become the first French stage winner of this Tour.
The Sojasun rider launched an attack 15 kilometres from the line and pulled as much as 40 seconds clear as they crested the last of seven categorised climbs today, but he was chased down as they passed under the flamme rouge one kilometre from the finish. His was the most daring of several attacks and feints off the front of the 18-man group once it became apparent one of their number would take the win today.
David Millar, who won on this day - the anniversary of Tom Simpson's death - in last year's Tour, was among those who showed an interest, but the Scot drew his finger across his throat to signal he was out of gas as they went up the penultimate climb of the day.
Instead, there was a bunch sprint finish with an unlikely cast as Martins won from Albasini with Millar's team-mate Andrew Talansky, another Tour debutant, crossing in third.
The breakaway had formed at the very start of the 191km stage along the rolling roads from Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule, which featured seven categorised climbs but all of them minor compared to the daunting Mont Ventoux which awaits tomorrow.
Jens Voigt, Lars Bak and Blel Kadri were the first to make their move, but as they struggled to make it stick several others followed in a series of counter-attacks, and the original trio eventually got away in a much larger group of 18.
A peloton led by all seven remaining Team Sky riders showed no sign of chasing them down at any stage, with Sky more concerned with protecting Froome from any more attacks such as the one which allowed Bauke Mollema and Alberto Contador to cut 69 seconds out of his lead yesterday.
That move, led by Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff squad, raised further questions over the strength of Froome's supporting cast at the Tour as injury and elimination have hit Team Sky, and this morning Froome told Sky News he was regretting the absence of last year's winner Sir Bradley Wiggins through injury.
However, they did their job without him today as Froome retained his two minute 28 second advantage over the Dutchman Mollema, with Contador remaining 17 seconds further back.
Ireland's Dan Martin remains in 11th positiion overall after stage 14 while Nicolas Roche has dropped one spot to 36th in the General Classification.