It was the other big German sprinter Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) who taught the bunch a sprinting lesson leaving Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) in his wake as he crossed the line.
As expected on the undulating course, Marcel Kittel finished well back in the pack.
Much of the stage's action came from several crashes.
BMC's Daniel Oss in an early break with Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Amets Txurruka (OGE), and Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff), crashed on a descent. Despite a bloodied knee, he went on to win the following two intermediate sprints.
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Not as lucky were Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) who had to pull out with injuries from a crash on a previous stage and Jakub Mareczko (Wilier-Southeast) who abandoned after coming down sick with a fever.
In the final 1km, Katusha's Rein Taaramae fell on a corner while Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo) and Albert Timmer (Giant-Alpecin) fell behind a skidding Gianfranco Zilioli (Nippo Vini Fantini) with 16km to go. All four riders finished the stage.
The four-rider break formed soon after as Damiano Cunego (Nippo Vini Fantini) took maximum points on the only KOM climb at the 35km mark. The quartet stayed free until 7kms to go although much of their advantage was chipped away on a descent by a panicky peloton with 40kms to go.
Cunego's effort was enough to move him into the king of the mountains jersey. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) stays in pink despite losing four seconds on the stage, after a split in the peloton at the finish.