Irishman Dan Martin was one of the highest profile losers of the stage.
The stage was won by Australian Michael Matthews as Britain's Chris Froome retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.
"It had been the same guy every year for five years (Peter Sagan), now this is going to be exciting", said Matthews, who outsprinted Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen and German John Degenkolb.
Three days after his victory in Rodez, Matthews reduced the gap with green jersey holder Marcel Kittel to 29 points in the best sprinter's classification with his second stage win.
"I saw the sprint on TV afterwards".
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Frenchman Romain Bardet was nearly caught out but was paced back to the lead group by team-mate Oliver Naesen, while Fabio Aru had to bridge a small gap by himself.
German Marcel Kittel, who was dropped early in the stage after failing to sustain the pace in the first climb, was 3.2kph slower on average than Australian stage victor Michael Matthews.
He can be fully satisfied with his day's work - besides the stage win, he also won the intermediate sprint, and now lies 29 points behind Kittel, who last week seemed to have an unassailable lead, and will be looking to try and pick up more points in the next two days as the race heads into the Alps. I sprinted in the same direction, I did not change my line.
"I was waiting for the result and he grabbed me on the way past", Matthews said.
He then allegedly grabbed Matthews around the neck in the area just beyond the finishing line. "I called the boys and they came to the front with big smiles on their faces and went full gas".
"It was not very sportsmanlike".