Germany's Marcel Kittel of Argos dominated a group sprint to win the 10th stage of the Tour de France, held over 197 km between Saint Gildas des Bois and Saint Malo on Tuesday.
Yellow jersey holder Chris Froome of Team Sky finished just behind the sprinters to retain his lead of 1min 25sec on Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of Movistar.
Kittel, the winner of stage one when the German also took the yellow jersey, pipped compatriot Andre Greipel (Lotto) to become the first sprinter on this year's 100th edition to win two stages.
British champion Mark Cavendish finished a distant third, but the Lotto rider could face sanctions from race officials after he was shown to have barged into one of Kittel's Argos teammates in the closing 150 metres.
The incident sent Tom Veelers flying and the Dutchman was lucky to escape with no serious injuries.
On a day the peloton were hit with crosswinds as they successfully reeled in a five-man breakaway, Froome was only too happy to avoid being caught up in the crash which saw Dutchman Tom Veelers hit the ground after Cavendish barged into him.
"That's always everyone's worst nightmare, getting caught in a pile-up," said Sky team leader Froome. "Fortunately I was to the side of that crash and went around it no problems."
Veelers, who sustained no serious injuries but admitted he was "bruised and scratched", said: "I think it's clear to see on the video that he (Cavendish) is riding me into the ground."
But asked if Cavendish should be disqualified, the Dutchman replied: "I'll leave that up to the jury. I'm not the one who decides."
Veelers had slowed down after finishing off leading out Kittel and the Dutchman found himself crashing to the ground at speed after the Manxman barged in from the right.
Remarkably, race jury president Vicente Tortajada Villaroya cleared Cavendish of any wrongdoing.
"Veelers had done his job for Kittel, he was tired and he was looking down. If we have to blame anyone, it is Veelers," said the Spanish official.
"There has been no complaint from Argos, but we were not considering sanctions or a disqualification."
Cavendish, the British champion and the winner of 24 stages on the race, finished third and later declared his innocence.
"The commissaires are already putting the blame on me... you can see he (Veelers) moves a little bit right, I move a little bit left, it's not like I took his wheel, I'm following the road," he said.
"It was the arms that touched anyway."
Later, on his twitter feed, Cavendish posted a message which read: "There's no way I'd move on a rider deliberately, especially one not contesting a sprint. I hope @tom_veelers is ok."
The 11th stage is a 33km time trial from Avranches to Mont Saint Michel and should see Froome, the Olympic bronze medallist in the discipline, extend his lead over rivals like Valverde, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans.
Overall standings after the 10th stage of the Tour de France, a 197km ride from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo on Tuesday:
1. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 41h52min 43sec
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) at 1:25.
3. Bauke Mollema (NED/BKN) 1:44.
4. Laurens ten Dam (NED/BKN) 1:50.
5. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/SAX) 1:51.
6. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 1:51.
7. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 2:02.
8. Daniel Martin (IRL/GRM) 2:28.
9. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 2:31.
10. Rui Costa (POR/MOV) 2:45.
11. Mikel Nieve (ESP/EUS) 2:55.
12. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 3:07.
13. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 3:25.
14. Jean Christophe Peraud (FRA/ALM) 3:29.
15. Andy Schleck (LUX/RSH) 4:00.
16. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 4:36.
17. Michael Rogers (AUS/SAX) 6:14.
18. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 6:16.
19. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) 6:40.
20. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 7:09.