Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) crashed into the barrier after an elbow from Peter Sagan in the bunch sprint, as Arnaud Démare became the first French sprinter to win a stage of the Tour de France since 2006.
He was trying to follow the wheel of the eventual stage victor, France's Arnaud Démare, by squeezing between Peter Sagan and the barrier, and as Cavendish tried to make space, Sagan bumped into him, sending the Manxman into the barrier.
In fact, Cavendish did briefly get to speak with Sagan, who finished second but was later removed from the standings as officials reviewed his actions during the crash. His win allowed him to claim the sprinters' green jersey from German Marcel Kittel, victor of Sunday's second stage but who was held up by the first crash and unable to contest the sprint.
His disqualification was met with disbelief, however.
Sagan's bodyguard told journalists that the world champion had been destabilised in the sprint finish by another rider. The sprint was very long and I knew it was very important to bide your time.
"I get on well with Peter and a crash is a crash but I'm not a fan of him putting his elbow in", the 32-year-old was reported as saying by BBC Sport after the race, with his right arm in a sling. "I tried to take off quite a lot of speed, but there was nowhere to go".
Then, just before the finish line, world champion Peter Sagan appeared to knock Mark Cavendish with an extended elbow has he came out of the saddle to overtake. The 30-time stage victor said Sagan came across to apologise, but questioned the elbow.
Cavendish's head hit the ground hard, but after the stage he was back on his feet at his Dimension Data team bus - with Sagan there too, although there's no news yet on what words might have passed between them.
Sagan was initially relegated to 115th place, and docked 30 seconds and 80 points in the green jersey competition that he has won for the past five years.
"It's unbelievable, beating all the best sprinters like that at the Tour de France is something I'd hoped for, for a long time", said Demare.
"I'm used to crashing, so it's fine, I'm all ok".
The last time the Tour de France ended in Vittel, back in 2009, Nicki Sorensen took the plaudits having been involved in a six-man breakaway, but a repeat solo effort never looked like threatening the sprinters.
Froome described the finish as "interesting", and the three-times champion was clearly relieved to have got the stage out of the way, especially given Sunday's spectacular mass pile-up that unseated him from his saddle.