Slovakia's Peter Sagan once again demonstrated his supreme talent with a second stage win of Le Tour.
The 22-year-old, who won stage one on Sunday to become the youngest Tour stage winner since Lance Armstrong in 1993, triumphed on the 197-kilometre third leg from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer as the 2012 race took to the roads of France for the first time.
Sagan even had time to dance over the line, as Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) finished one second behind in second place, with Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) third.
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) was fourth to retain the race leader's yellow jersey ahead of Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins.
The 3km rule prevented Wiggins from losing time on Cancellara after the Briton was delayed by a crash fewer than 300metres from the finish. He remained seven seconds behind the Swiss.
It was a challenging day which featured six categorised climbs in the final 70km and meant a nervous peloton.
The peloton was splintered by two crashes on the way to the coast of northern France, with Team Sky's Kanstantsin Siutsou becoming the first of 198 starters to abandon the Tour and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) following soon after.
The full implications of Siutsou's absence will be revealed in the coming days and weeks, but it was a blow for Wiggins' hopes to succeed Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) as Tour champion.
Siutsou had ridden for Team Sky in each of the Londoner's wins this season, at the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine stage races.
After the remnants of the day's five-man break, King of the Mountains Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) and Andriy Grivko (Astana), were swept up, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) launched an audacious late attack on the descent of the penultimate climb, the Cote du Mont Lambert.
But the Frenchman ran out of steam and a fast approaching peloton, with BMC Racing to the fore, caught and overtook him.
As the contenders spotted the line, another crash saw around 20 riders go clear, with Sagan leading them over the line.
Evans was among the leading group, but Wiggins stayed calm and rolled in well behind, safe in the knowledge he would not lose time.
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