The final kilometre of the 191.5km ride between Abbeville and Le Havre was punctuated by a spill involving race leader Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Nibali (Astana) and a few others, with Sky’s Froome lucky to escape unscathed.
Froome did well to stay upright after Martin had veered to his right on the final uphill finishing straight, pushing a small bunch of riders, including Nibali, to the tarmac. Froome was hit by Nibali, and had to steady himself quickly to survive.
Nibali wrongly assumed Froome had been at fault, and took issue with the Briton, which led to a brief altercation between the two.
“It seemed that Froome sent me down. I was very upset with him,” Nibali said later. “But then, watching the video, he also came on the bus, and I said sorry to him. That’s the way it went, though.
“I gave my apologies, it seemed more that it was Tony Martin, I moved right, I found Froome, thought it was his fault.
“Did we clear it all up? Yeah. We are not footballers, we are cyclists.”
Martin was left with a badly fractured collarbone that has ended his participation in the race. Froome, despite trailing the German by 12 seconds in the overall classification, will now take the maillot jaune by default as the race leader.
Both Froome and Nibali remain fit to continue, despite a few grazes here and there, and Froome was quick to clear up any confusion over his visit to the Astana bus on his Twitter account.
Froome also gave an update on his own condition to media.
"I took a knock on my knee bone and there was a little bit of blood there, but nothing more than that, I'm absolutely fine. I had to wait on the roadside as my rear wheel was buckled and I couldn't ride on,” he said.
"Until the finish today's stage was definitely the most straightforward we've had so far. We had good weather, no crazy winds, and the pace of the racing was a little more relaxed. For me, it was about staying out of trouble and the guys did a good job in keeping me towards the front of the bunch.
"I'm really happy with how things have gone up to this point and couldn't have asked for any better. Hopefully we can keep that.”
As for Nibali, who sits 1min 38sec behind Froome’s overall time, he seemed happy to have survived and buried the hatchet with his rival.
“He (Froome) didn’t want to fall down. Clearly, when you fall, you always suffer damage,” Nibali said.
“I was very upset, but we clarified it. Better that way. You know, in the heat of the race it’s like that, but when you clarify it, it’s better.”