Mark Cavendish counted himself lucky to avoid injury but blamed the Tour de France organisers' decision to twice change the location of the finish line for the crash that ended his dreams of wearing the yellow jersey amid chaotic scenes in Bastia.
When the Orica GreenEdge team bus became lodged under the banner at the finish line with the peloton less than 20 kilometres away, the teams were initially told the finish line would be moved 3km forward.
But once the bus was moved with the riders already in the town's suburbs the original finish was restored and just moments after the announcement was relayed to riders a huge crash took out two of the favourites - Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel - while Cavendish's hopes were ended as he was caught in the queue.
"What caused the problems was the change to the finish," Cavendish said.
"We were hearing in the radios with 5km to go the finish was in 2km. Then a kilometre later, it's at the finish. It was carnage."
Team Argos-Shimano's Marcel Kittel emerged from the chaos to win a sprint finish from Alexander Kristoff of Katusha, while Britain's David Millar was fourth behind Danny Van Poppel.
While disappointed, Cavendish said it could have been worse, amid unconfirmed reports that his team-mate Tony Martin had suffered a broken collarbone which would end his Tour.
"I'm not the only one," Cavendish said. "I'm lucky I didn't come down. Some of my team-mates are a lot worse. I can count myself lucky.
"I am lucky compared to most."
Kittel said he had been unaware of the incident with the bus, knowing only that his race director was shouting into the team radio at a frantic rate in the final stages.
"I didn't there was a bus on the finish line," he said. "With six or seven kilometres to go the race director was shouting in the radio but it was so loud with all the people and the motorbikes and helicopters, it was so loud I couldn't really understand what he said so I didn't know about it.
"I'm pretty happy they could tow the bus away and make it work in the end so we could finish on the finish line."
But while everything worked out for Kittel, several others were left fuming by the confusion at the finish.
Lotto Belisol rider Greg Henderson wrote on Twitter: "So at 6k to go we get told 3k sign is the finish. We use 3 men. 3.5k to go we get told its original final. Ufff. #confusingandfrustrating"
Although Chris Froome - involved in what Team Sky described as a "small crash" in the very first kilometre of the stage during the neutralised section - finished unscathed, Team Sky themselves did not.
Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas were both involved in falls, with the latter being taken to hospital for x-rays.
Watch a disappointed Cav's reaction in the video above.
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