With three kilometres remaining in the 190.7km ride from Albertville, it was Julian Alaphilippe who started the pistons cranking on the blue train of the Belgian team, along with Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini, and Michael Mørkøv with Cavendish sitting fifth wheel.
Arkéa-Samsic made a move on outside with 1.5km to go for Nacer Bouhanni, with Jasper Philipsen also there for Alpecin-Fenix, Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe, Michael Matthews for Team BikeExchange, as well as Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) clinging to the Deceuninck-QuickStep wheels.
But the final 150 metres belonged to Cavendish, with Van Aert claiming second and Philipsen taking third. Just behind in the same time, Bouhanni would grab fourth place ahead of Matthews.
The flat stage featured a two-rider breakaway – Hugo Houle (Astana-Premier Tech) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) – for close to 140 kilometres. They were allowed to gain six minutes. With 38km to go, Van der Sande dropped back and Houle tried to go clear, but it would be the crosswinds creating havoc and several teams upped the pace to split the race, including EF Education-Nippo, Jumbo-Visma, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep.
For a few kilometres it looked as though race leader Tadej Pogačar would be distanced, but he took control with his UAE Team Emirates squad to close down a gap. The sprinter's teams then took over for the finish in Valence.
Watch the video above for the full highlights.
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