Britain's Mark Cavendish of HTC-Highroad claimed his 16th career win in the Tour de France when he powered to victory in the race's fifth stage on Wednesday.
Norwegian Thor Hushovd, of the Garmin-Cervelo team, kept the race leader's yellow jersey after the 164.5km ride from Carhaix to Cap Frehel.
Cavendish, who claimed 15 stage wins over the previous three Tours, came into the 98th edition knowing there would be few chances to sprint to victory in the race. However, his HTC-Highroad team defied the difficult conditions on the coast road leading to Cap Frehel before successfully chasing down a late attack launched by French pair Thomas Voeckler and Jeremy Roy.
Having followed Roy when the FDJ rider pulled away with 33km to race, Voeckler was caught with 1.8km to go, paving the way for the sprinters' teams to up the pace ahead of an explosive burst for the line.
HTC, however, gave their rivals food for thought when German time-trial specialist Tony Martin pulled away inside the final kilometer, prompting Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen into a furious chase. He was followed by stage one winner Philippe Gilbert, Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas, and Hushovd. Cavendish played a waiting game, powering up the middle of the road in the final 100 meters to beat Gilbert at the finish line.
Rojas was third ahead of young Frenchman Tony Gallopin. Hushovd, who took the race lead when Garmin won Sunday's team time-trial in Les Essarts, will now wear the yellow jersey into Thursday's 226.5km ride from Dinan to Lisieux as the race heads out of Brittany towards Normandy.