Tyler Farrar sprinted to victory on stage three of the Tour de France after superb work from his in-form Garmin-Cervelo team.
The American was led-out perfectly by yellow jersey holder Thor Hushovd and Julian Dean, in stark contrast to what proved an untidy finish for many of the other sprinters' teams.
Mark Cavendish's HTC-Highroad had looked in pole position when they were massed on the front with five kilometres remaining but they were unable to maintain control and Cavendish found himself detached and having to pick his way through before finishing strongly in fifth.
Farrar was instead chased home by Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil) and Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar), with Sébastien Hinault (AG2R) fourth.
Crossing the line he made a 'W' sign with his hands in memory of his best friend Wouter Weylandt who tragically lost his life in the Giro d'Italia earlier this season.
It was Farrar's first victory in a Tour de France stage and he also becomes the first American to triumph on the 4th of July. The victory was Garmin Cervelo's second on cycling's biggest stage, coming just 24 hours after their team time trial triumph.
Hushovd retains the leader's yellow jersey with the leading placings as before; his teammate David Millar in second on the same time, Cadel Evans a second back in third and Team Sky's Geraint Thomas fourth.
Farrar said: “It’s incredible I’ve been chasing this one for a long time so to finally get it means so much. The 4th of July makes it even better.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect run. When you have the yellow jersey/world champion leading you out it’s incredible. I was really happy that I was able to finish the job off.
“I think it’s a lot about confidence. We started as a small team and we’ve been building every year and last year we had some good victories. The Tour was what we were missing but this year that confidence is a bit higher and we are winning even more.
“We have a very professional and experienced lead-out so we don’t have to talk much and those guys know what to do. I didn’t have to start sprinting until 150-metres-to-go today so it’s hard to beat someone when they have that.”
Mixed day for Cav
In contrast to Farrar's delight, Cavendish was frustrated by late problems, explaining: "I just got taken out on that last corner and was 30 to 40 metres back with 600 metres to go.
"I had great legs and won the bunch's intermediate sprint earlier on pretty comfortably so it's just a shame what happened at the end there. At least we know the form is there and the team is going well so the results will come."
The day had previously panned out in fairly predictable fashion with a five-man break going clear in the very first kilometre of the 198km route from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon.
Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step), José Iván Gutiérrez (Movistar), Maxime Bouet (AG2R), Mickaël Delage (FDJ) and Rubén Pérez (Euskatel-Euskadi) were the five in question and they opened up a maximum advantage of over seven minutes.
They hoovered up the big points in the day's intermediate sprint, with Cavendish surging through to seemingly take the 10 points for sixth ahead of Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha).
It emerged later though that both Cavendish and Hushovd, who was 12th in the mid-race battle, were docked their points after making contact with each other, the race commissars deeming their actions inappropriate.
Cavendish later suggested the reasons for his disqualification were "personal" - something which could yet land him in trouble.
The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man, who has 15 Tour stage successes to his credit, wrote on Twitter: "Saw other riders in final (run-in) of today on TV and believe decisions are personal."
Meanwhile the peloton was always comfortable with the break situation and the only time the bunch was thrown into some confusion came on the Pont de Saint-Nazaire, a cantilever bridge. That marked the highest point of the day at just 66m on what was very much a sprinters' stage but the exposed nature meant that the bunch was momentarily split.
Ivan Basso was one big name to be distanced but his Liquigas team worked hard to close things up again before attention focussed on the bunch sprint.