Mark Cavendish, seeking a 22nd Tour de France stage win of his career, was again in the thick of the action at the intermediate sprint on stage six.
The 27-year-old Team Sky cyclist won stage two, crashed on stage four, recovered to finish fifth on stage five to Saint-Quentin yesterday and began today's 207.5-kilometre route from Epernay to Metz seeking to draw level with Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade in fourth place in the all-time rankings of stage winners.
After a crash-strewn first week, there was an early collision today, with Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), the winner of the last two stages, involved in the incident after 35km. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) were also involved, but none of the riders sustained serious injuries.
Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) led the day's four-man escape, which began after 5km, at the intermediate sprint.
Kroon was the only rider to contest the sprint at 72km to the finish of the day's route, with Davide Malacarne (Europcar), Romain Zingle (Cofidis) and David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) content to roll over the line.
The peloton followed fewer than three minutes later, with Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) beating Cavendish to the line.
Points classification leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), wearing the green jersey, was the third rider to cross from the peloton to limit the damage.
While Cavendish was seeking to add to his 21 stage successes, Greipel was aiming to become the 12th Tour rider to win three successive stages and first to accomplish the feat since Armstrong in 2004.
Greipel was caught in another collision on the ascent of the day's only categorised climb, the category four Cote du Buxieres, the summit of which came 62.5km from the finish.
The German was temporarily delayed, but a tough chase accompanied by two team-mates saw him rejoin the peloton.