Cavendish is certainly back to his best. In a head-to-head sprint with rival Marcel Kittel, he came out on top, with compatriot Daniel McLay coming in third thanks to a late burst of speed. He now has a twenty-two point lead in the green jersey.
Again, it wasn't the most urgent of stages. Lampre's Yukiya Arashiro and Bora's Jan Bárta were allowed to get away at the start, but never built too big of an advantage, and were easily caught by the Direct Energie-led peloton with twenty-two kilometres to go. It was Direct Energie who led for the majority of the stage, even as the pace ratcheted up late on.
Going in to Montauban, Lotto-Soudal were prominent, while Etixx-Quickstep were nowhere to be seen, finally muscling in with two men ahead of Kittel in the last two kilometres. It looked like Cavendish and Kittel were going to be the only two men in the sprint, launching at the same time, side by side, Kittel leading at first, but Cavendish coming alongside and past him, holding his advantage to the line, not even challenged by the speed of McLay, who threatened to come around him in the closing metres. Alexander Kristoff managed fourth.
There were some small splits in the peloton, with the top sixteen finishing three seconds ahead of a two-man group, who in turn were one second ahead of most of the GC contenders. Alberto Contador and Joaquím Rodríguez each lost one second to their rivals.