FOUGERES, France (AP) -- British rider Mark Cavendish won the sun-soaked seventh stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish on Friday, while countryman Chris Froome retained the overall lead as he bids to win the race for a second time.
This time there was no crash near the finish, like the one on Thursday's sixth stage that cost German rider Tony Martin a broken collarbone, forcing him to withdraw while wearing the race leader's yellow jersey.
Cavendish, seeking his first Tour stage win since 2013 after crashing out of last year's race, timed his attack to perfection to catch German sprinter Andre Greipel near the line to clinch his 26th career Tour stage win.
"I'm super happy," Cavendish said. "Long time since I've won on the Tour de France."
Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who is bidding to win the best sprinter's green jersey for the fourth straight year, was third.
It was a fitting win for Cavendish, who is Martin's teammate on the Etixx-Quick Step team.
Sagan, who is not a main Tour contender, is second overall. American rider Tejay Van Garderen, an outsider for the Tour win who has excellent climbing skills, is third, 13 seconds behind Froome.
The stage featured no yellow jersey as Froome, the 2013 Tour champion, elected not to wear it as a mark of respect for Martin, who successfully underwent an operation early Friday.
"That's not the way to get the yellow jersey due to someone else's misfortunes," Froome said. "I was second on the GC (general classification) so there was no way to wear it."
Cavendish said before the stage that the team's minds were elsewhere.
"It was very emotional this morning," Cavendish said. "I could feel such devastation; it's kind of a weird feeling."
The stage started from Livarot -- a town in the Normandy region which has a cheese of the same name -- and passed through the Calvados region, home to the famed apple brandy drink, and ended 190.5 kilometers (118 miles) later in Fougeres, nestled in the Brittany region.
Two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador fell off his bike before the start line but got back on to take the start.
Within two minutes of the stage start, five riders broke away.
Eritrean rider Daniel Teklehaimanot, wearing the best climber's polka dot jersey, was joined by Frenchmen Anthony Delaplace and Brice Feillu, Croatian Kristjian Durasek and Spaniard Luis Angel Mate.
Teklehaimanot took an extra point in his quest to win the King of the Mountains jersey when he was the first to reach the top of the Cote de Canapville -- the stage's only recognized climb. He was the first of the front five to be caught some 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the line, followed by Durasek and Delaplace.
That left just Mate and Feillu in front, who were reeled in with about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) to go.
Once again, Van Garderen's BMC team led the main pack as it approached the finish, with three of Froome's Team Sky teammates parked at the front.
Then, the main riders eased up and let the sprinters go.
Norwegian sprinter Alexander Kristoff attacked first, with about 300 meters to go, and then Greipel surged past him on the left.
But this time Cavendish answered well to deny Greipel a third stage win on this year's race.