Mark Cavendish became the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France for five years with a brilliant sprint shoot-out on the fifth stage from Cholet to Chateauroux.
The Isle of Man rider for Team Columbia, who also won two stages in this year's Giro d'Italia, held off late attacks from Thor Hushovd, Oscar Freire and Erik Zabel, and pulled away from his rivals in the final metres.
The 232km stage was the longest in this year's Tour and was led almost from start to finish by three breakaway riders.
The French trio of Lilian Jegou, Florent Brard and national champion Nicolas Vogondy opened up a gap of more than eight minutes, which was slowly whittled away by the chasing peloton.
Vogondy broke away from his compatriots in the final 1.5km, only to be overhauled by the sprinters around 30 metres from the line.
There is no change in the overall lead, with Stefan Schumacher holding on to the yellow jersey, 12 seconds ahead of Kim Kirchen and Britain's David Millar.
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