Kittel wins Stage 10 as Cavendish embroiled in crash
Marcel Kittel won stage 10 of the Tour de France in Saint-Malo after Mark Cavendish was involved in a collision during the sprint to the line.
Kittel broke in the final few metres to pip Andre Greipel over the line, while Cavendish crossed in third having sat up in the final few metres.
The Manxman had been well placed when the sprint began but then clashed with Kittel's lead-out man Tom Veelers, sending the Dutchman crashing to the floor.
Although Cavendish remained upright, his rhythm had been lost and he gave up the chase.
Cavendish was shaking his head as he crossed the line, another chance gone for him to win a 25th Tour stage and move level with Andre Leducq in third-place on the all-time list.
The result was a big disappointment for an army of British fans who had crossed the channel to watch the finish in Saint-Malo, including a group of school children from his native Isle of Man.
The incident continues Cavendish's frustrating Tour to date.
Although he won stage five in Marseille, his hopes of wearing the yellow jersey on the opening day were ended by the chaos caused when Orica GreenEdge's team bus struck the finish line gantry, while he also crashed on stage six to Montpellier and was beaten in the sprint finish.
The tumbling Veelers caused alarm in the fast moving peloton but Chris Froome made it safely through and the Team Sky man retains the yellow jersey.
It remained to be seen if there would be any further repercussions from Cavendish's collision with Veelers.
Cavendish appeared to cut across the Dutchman and give him a nudge, but only after Veelers had moved across the road in front of him.
Cavendish was left in trouble with his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mates unable to match the lead-out provided by Argos-Shimano for Kittel and Lotto-Belisol for Greipel.
The fireworks in the final 250 metres came after a relatively uneventful flat stage from Saint-Gildas-Des-Bois - certainly compared with the thrills and spills of the weekend's battles in the Pyrenees.
An early breakaway formed of Jerome Cousin, Juan Jose Oroz, Luis Mate, Lieuwe Westra, and Julien Simon went up the road shortly after the start, and they had an advantage which reached as much as five minutes before it began to gradually tick down after the midpoint of the 197km stage.
Froome remained near the front of the peloton with the support of Sky team-mates David Lopez and Ian Stannard, having been left all alone surrounded by rivals on Sunday.
As the riders traversed roads packed with fans in the traditional cycling hotbed of Brittany, they enjoyed temperatures of around 23 degrees, a welcome relief after some punishing days in soaring heat in the south of France last week - cited as the cause of struggles for several after a relatively cold season to date.
Mate led the breakaway through the intermediate sprint to take 20 points, with Greipel the first of the green jersey contenders in sixth ahead of Peter Sagan and Cavendish.
Westra then moved to the front for the only categorised climb of the day, the category four Cote de Dinan, and the Dutchman kicked on to briefly leave the other escapees behind before thinking better of it and waiting for them to catch up.
Their advantage dropped under one minute as they moved into the final 30km of the stage. Oroz responded with a solo attack but the others soon came back at him.
As they neared the finish, only Stannard was left with Froome as Team Saxo-Tinkoff picked up the pace - Nicolas Roche at the front of the peloton - ahead of a long stretch of coast road where dangerous crosswinds blow.
Sky responded to draw alongside while, up ahead, Westra fell back from the breakaway and was caught with 18km to go.
The four remaining escapees were caught with 5.5km to go as the sprint teams began to gather at the front ready for the finish.
Ireland's Dan Martin remains in eight position following the stage, he is 2:28 behind Froome.