Frenchman Romain Feillu took the overall lead in the Tour de France, as compatriot Samuel Dumoulin won the third stage on a day of upsets in Nantes.
Feillu, from the Agritubel team, is the first local to wear the yellow jersey on the Tour since Cyril Dessel in 2006, after finishing third in the stage behind Cofidis's Dumoulin and Garmin-Chipotle's William Frischkorn of the United States.
Dumoulin proved to be the best sprinter of a breakaway quartet that split from the peloton one kilometre after the start of the 208km stage from St Malo to Nantes.
"I knew that I was well placed in the general classification and that if we were to go all the way, I would pull on the jersey," Feillu, whose start to the season has been hampered by toxoplasmosis, told a news conference.
The top three and Paolo Longo Borghini of Italy opened a 14-minute lead in heavy rain showers and gusty winds.
"We [Frenchmen] proved that we were not worse than the other riders in the peloton," said Dumoulin, who had to pull out of the 2004 Tour after colliding with a dog.
Spaniard Angel Litu Gomez was forced to withdraw and was taken to a Nantes hospital for medical checks after injuring his left hip in a crash at a traffic divider that split the peloton.
Spain's Alejandro Valverde, yellow jersey winner from the opening two stages, and Australia's Cadel Evans, race favourite, stayed in the main pack that crossed the line two minutes and three seconds behind the winner.
Leading contenders Riccardo Ricco of Italy and Russian Denis Menchov lost a further 38 seconds.
Valverde is now fourth overall, one minute and 45 seconds behind Feillu, who may not be wearing yellow for long as Tuesday's stage will be a 29.5km time trial.
"We thought the teams of the sprinters would cooperate more to chase behind the breakers but they did not seize the opportunity they had to win a stage despite the fact the course suited them perfectly," Valverde said.
"We knew that if it was not today we were supposed to lose the yellow jersey tomorrow so that it does not change a lot of things for us."
Evans sits ninth, only one second further behind the Spaniard.