Marcel Kittel of Quick Step Floors has once again confirmed his status as the pre-eminent sprinter left in this year's Tour de France as he took his fifth win in the 104th edition - and the 15th of his career - in Pau this afternoon. Chris Froome of Team Sky retains the race leader's yellow jersey ahead of stages in the Pyrenees over the next two days.
There was heartbreak however for Bora-Hansgrohe's Maciej Bodnar, who had launched a solo attack from the day's three-man break and who was caught with just 200 metres remaning of the 203.5km stage from Eymet - the Dordogne commune that is home to the highest proportion of British immigrants in France.
Bodnar, a former Polish time trial champion, attacked his fellow breakaway riders Marco Marcato of UAE Team Emirates and Frederik Backaert of Wanty-Groupe Gobert with 28 kilometres remaining, and coming under the 10 kilometre to go banner had an advantage of 40 seconds over the chasing peloton.
That was halved over the next 5 kilometres on the way into Pau, which as the gateway to the western Pyrenees is one of the most visited cities in the race's 114-year history.
But the peoloton would not be denied as the catch was finally made with the line in sight, Kittel winning from LottoNL-Jumbo's Dylan Groenewegen, with Edvald Boasson Hagen of Dimension Data third.
Fabio Aru, second overall, suffered a blow as one of his key support riders in the coming mountain stages, Dario Cataldo, crashed in the feed zone and abandoned with a broken wrist, with fellow Astana rider Jakob Fuglsang also coming down in the same incident.
Another rider to crash today was former winner Alberto Contador of Trek-Segafredo, although the Spaniard - who needs to produce something special in the mountains to reiginite his ambitions of a third victory - remounted and completed the stage.
Stage winner (again) Marcel Kittel
It's incredible because even being at the top your game, you're never sure to win. In those five bunch sprints I won, I never made a mistake.
Today again I could jump from wheel to wheel.
It's nice to give the team a win again. Julien Vermote, Jack Bauer, Philippe Gilbert … they're champions and they gave everything for me to win today.
I'm speechless! It's hard to work on winning. Most importantly, I've got the legs and the mind for it at the moment."
Maciej Bodnar, who got today's combativity prize
We are riding without our captains [Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka], so we want to take advantage of our opportunities.
We have to respect our fans, our sponsors and our staff. Usually working for others, it doesn't often happen to me to work for myself.
In the last kilometres, I was thinking that I could do it. With 2km to go, I looked back and I saw the bunch still 200 metres back but it was also only 200 metres … "
Race leader, Chris Froome
In stages like today and yesterday, it's difficult to say if I'm in the shape I want to or not because it's just about cruising in the bunch.
Tomorrow, I'll know more in the mountains but I certainly like to think that my curve is still on the up.
I'm hoping to hit the last week in the best shape I've ever been. I think the number 1 priority will be to not allow someone to come back on GC and I'll keep a close eye on Aru. I'll stick to him like glue.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.