Marcel Kittel won stage seven of the Tour de France in a photo finish as Chris Froome stayed safe in the yellow jersey.
German Kittel (Quick-Step Floor) edged out Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) by the narrowest of margins after making a huge lunge to the line, with Team Sunweb’s Michael Matthews coming home in third.
Team Sky’s Froome crossed safely in the pack to retain his 12-second lead over team-mate Geraint Thomas in the general classification, with Astana’s Fabio Aru third, 14 seconds down
Kittel’s sprint train had the dominant position as they barrelled towards the finish line in Nuits-Saint-Georges, but veteran Mark Renshaw guided Boasson Hagen to the front.
Kittel risked finding himself boxed in behind Katusha-Alpecin’s Alexander Kristoff, but found the burst of power he needed to take his third victory of this Tour, and 12th of his career in the race. The 29-year-old took victory on stage two into Liege and Thursday’s stage six to Troyes.
The threat of crosswinds on the 213.5 kilometre route from Troyes ensured Froome will not have been as relaxed as he was on Thursday’s sedate stage through Champagne country, but the peloton stayed in one piece to ensure the yellow jersey was never under threat.
A four-man breakaway was allowed to go early as Manuele Mori (UAE Team Emirates), Yohann Gene (Direct Energie), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) and Maxime Bouet (Fortuneo-Oscaro) heading up the road.
Their advantage got close to four minutes but they were given no more rope than that with the sprint trains wary of possible winds later in the stage.
Those gusts began to blow in the final 40 kilometres and the gap plummeted with several teams battling for position – sprint trains chasing stage honours and the general classification squads trying to keep their main men safe.
The break was caught with six kilometres left and the sprint trains stepped up their battle for supremacy at the front. Britain’s Dan McLay finished 10th in the sprint for Fortuneo-Oscaro.