Mark Cavendish (above) sprinted to his first Tour de France victory in almost two years and 26th in all on stage seven to Fougeres yesterday, with Ireland's Sam Bennett behind him in 10th.
"Cav is back" declared the French television commentators after the Manxman burst to victory on the 190.5km route from Livarot after two near-misses in this year's race.
His Etixx-QuickStep squad floundered in the finishing straight last Sunday in Zeeland and on Wednesday in Amiens the Manxman was third, conceding Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) were simply faster.
The pressure was increasing on Cavendish, who is out of contract with Belgian squad Etixx-QuickStep at the end of the year, yesterday was one of the final opportunities for the pure sprinters, given the challenging nature of the route.
But the 30-year-old delivered his first win since the 2013 Tour to move two behind Bernard Hinault's tally of stage wins. The Frenchman has 28, second only to Eddy Merckx's record tally of 34.
Chris Froome began the day in his Team Sky kit, leaving the maillot jaune vacant after Tony Martin's Tour-ending crash on Thursday.
The Team Sky leader was 12 seconds behind Martin after the sixth stage, but Martin's withdrawal gave the Briton the race lead.
Prior to the stage, Froome said: "Out of respect for Tony I would never have worn it in any case.
"That's not the way to get the yellow jersey, due to someone else's misfortunes, but Tony finished yesterday.
"I was second on the GC (general classification) so there was no way to wear it."
Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) consolidated his lead in the King of the Mountains competition as part of the day's five-man breakaway.
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