Arnaud Demare took the honours on stage four of the Tour de France, which ended with a huge crash involving Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan during a thrilling sprint finish.
The flat 207.5-kilometre ride from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel proved, as predicted, favourable to the sprinters and the leading stage contenders bunched together in the closing stages.
And, during the jostling and bustling for position, Sagan's elbow appeared to hit Cavendish, who collided heavily with the barriers and needed medical attention on the road with the Manxman clutching his shoulder.
FDJ rider Demare was one of the leaders that came out unscathed and a well-timed charge saw him cross the line ahead of Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin), while the Frenchman now holds the lead in the sprint classification.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) remained in possession of the yellow jersey despite coming off the bike following a crash that preceded Cavendish's tumble, coming away seemingly unhurt. His lead is now seven seconds over Sagan.
Earlier, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) made a solo break and had to deal alone with the punishing headwinds.
Van Keirsbulck's lead was such that he mopped up maximum sprint points and the solitary mountain point on offer, before he was swept up with 17km remaining - a cut-throat gesture to the camera signalling the end of his pursuit.
The usual amble for position followed and pandemonium ensued in the closing metres.
Cavendish tried to latch on to Demare's wheel, but Andre Greipel and Nacer Bouhanni veered right forcing Sagan towards Cavendish, who was clipped and had nowhere to go but the barrier - Team Dimension Data later confirming he was taken to hospital to check on an injured shoulder.
Demare then made the most of his brilliant charge to take the honours at the end of an utterly chaotic finish.
GOOD DAY / BAD DAY
It was obviously a great day for Demare, who looked well primed to win despite Cavendish's late tumble, while Van Keirsbulck takes an honourable mention. It was nothing but disappointment for Cavendish, though, who had a bandaged hand as well as cuts from his crash.
1. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) 4:53:54
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
3. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin)
4. Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal)
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
1. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 14:54:25
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:07
3. Chris Froome (Team Sky) +0:12
1. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) 124 points
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 95 points
3. Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) 80 points
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
1. Nathan Brown (Cannondale-Drapac) 3 points
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 2 points
3. Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) 2 points
Stage five is a 160.5km trek from Vittel to La Planche des Belles Filles. The ride goes through the Vosges Mountains and finishes with a gruelling climb.