SAINT-AMAND-MONTROND, France -- Mark Cavendish won the 13th stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish Friday and Chris Froome lost a sizeable chunk of his overall lead after being caught by Alberto Contador.

Cavendish moved ahead with about 100 meters to go and rival Peter Sagan, the defending champion and current leader in the sprinters' green jersey contest, was unable to stay with him.

It was the British sprinter's second stage win of the Tour and 25th overall – moving him into third place with Frenchman Andre Leducq on the all-time list of Tour stage winners.

"My team did an incredible job today," Cavendish said. "We're going to have some Champagne tonight."

His relief was clear to see as he rushed into the arms of teammate Sylvain Chavanel after the stage. On Thursday his teammates had put him into a great position to attack but he was beaten to the line by Marcel Kittel of Germany.

"Yesterday they gave everything and I let them down," Cavendish said. "The Tour de France is the most incredible race in the world. It means so much to me. When I think about it, it makes me want to cry."

Flat stages are normally relatively free of incident, but the 173-kilometer (107.5-mile) trek from Tours, which is surrounded by the Loire river, to Saint-Amand-Montrond in central France was exciting and showed that even Froome's formidable Sky team can be vulnerable.

"There's no such thing as a calm stage on the Tour de France," Froome said.

With about a third of the stage gone, the main pack was split into three and Alejandro Valverde dropped way out of overall contention after stopping to repair a puncture. He dropped out of the top 10 after losing a huge amount of time.

Valverde was second overnight but that spot was overtaken by Dutchman Bauke Mollema, while the two-time former champion Contador improved to third. They both gained 1 minute, 9 seconds on Froome.

That means Mollema is 2:28 behind and Contador is 2:45 back.

"It doesn't surprise me what happened today. Just a reminder that I need to stay awake at all times in this race," Froome said.

Cavendish now has only Frenchman Bernard Hinault – 28 wins – and record holder Eddy Merckx of Belgium – 34 – ahead of him.

Elsewhere, there was a victory of sorts for Contador – who had been battered by Froome in the Pyrenees mountains and then lost more time to him in the time trial.

That should give Contador a huge lift with a tough mountain stage looming on Sunday and then three grueling Alpine stages to follow after that. Given that Froome finished all alone and without any Sky teammates on a flat stage, it suggests he could be in serious trouble in the mountains if he's isolated by an attack from Contador.

The Sky team is down to seven riders after Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen had to pull out after fracturing his right shoulder in a crash involving about 20 riders near the end of Thursday's stage. Of the remaining seven, Geraint Thomas is riding with a fractured pelvis.

With about 60 kilometers of the stage gone, the peloton split in three after an attack from Cavendish's Omega Pharma QuickStep team, with Tony Martin leading the charge. Froome made sure he stayed with the small group forming at the front as it pulled away from the two groups behind.

Omega's attack was to try and distance German sprinter Marcel Kittel – who was won three sprint stages so far – and it worked to perfection.

"They rode themselves into the ground," Cavendish said. "It wasn't really a master plan, we just felt the wind wasn't in the right position so we decided to ride harder, to make the peloton more tired and finally it broke."

With so many riders pedaling hard behind them, there was no way the early six-man breakaway would last and they were swallowed up with about 100 kilometers (roughly 60 miles) left. No breakaway has gone all the way on this year's Tour, mainly because the peloton has ridden so aggressively, which in turn made the race more nervy and doubtless contributed to several big crashes.

Then, bad luck struck Valverde.

The Spaniard had to leave the yellow jersey group to mend his bike. This meant that his Movistar teammates also had to drop off the main group to go back and help him with nearly 80 kilometers (50 miles) of grueling riding ahead.

Flanked by five teammates, Valverde rode furiously but it was a futile effort.

With Valverde vulnerable, the Belkin team showed no mercy, profiting from his delay to move to the front of the yellow jersey group, keen to gain as much time as possible in order to push Mollema and countryman Laurens Ten Dam, who is now fifth, up the overall standings.

Things like that tend to go full circle in cycling, and Belkin can no longer expect any help from Movistar for the rest of the race.

Belkin pushed so hard at the front that Richie Porte, Froome's strongest teammate at Sky, was dropped.

By the end, Froome was all alone and his team has some serious thinking to do with the mountains approaching.

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  • Mark Cavendish of Britain crosses the finish line to win the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

  • CYCLING-FRA-TDF2013-DOPING

    Britain's Mark Cavendish arrives at the anti-doping control bus at the end of the 173 km thirteenth stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 12, 2013 between Tours and Saint-Amand-Montrond, central France. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Le Tour de France 2013 - Stage Thirteen

    SAINT-AMAND-MONTROND, FRANCE - JULY 12: (R-3R) Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland, Sylvain Chavanel of France and Mark Cavendish of Great Britain and of Omega Pharma-Quickstep lead the peloton during stage thirteen of the 2013 Tour de France, a 173KM road stage from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond on July 12, 2013 in Saint-Amand-Montrond, France. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

  • CYCLING-FRA-TDF2013-LINE

    Britain's Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the finish line at the end of the 173 km thirteenth stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 12, 2013 between Tours and Saint-Amand-Montrond, central France. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Mark Cavendish of Britain, right, and Tony Martin of Germany, in second position, ride in the pack during the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Mark Cavendish of Britain crosses the finish line to win the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • Stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain drinks as he rides with his teammates in the breakaway during the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • A spectator holds a British flag reading "Cav Attack" referring to stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain as he celebrates on the podium of the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

  • Stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates on the podium of the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

  • Stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates on the podium of the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

  • Sylvain Chavanel of France, rear right, celebrates as stage winner and teammate Mark Cavendish of Britain sprints towards the finish line of the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. Others are Spain's Alberto Contador, far left, Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark, second left, Niki Terpstra of The Netherlands, center, and Peter Sagan of Slovakia, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

  • Stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain, right, leads his Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates during the breakaway in the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain, Sylvain Chavanel of France , Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark, Peter Sagan of Slovakia, Maciej Bodnar of Poland and Alberto Contador of Spain, from left, ride in the breakaway during the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • The pack breaks into two groups as team Omega Pharma-Quick Step with stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain, second right in white, and Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland, wearing the best young rider's white jersey, right, set the pace during the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates on the podium of the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Stage winner Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates on the podium of the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Mark Cavendish of Britain crosses the finish line to win the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

  • Le Tour de France 2013 - Stage Thirteen

    SAINT-AMAND-MONTROND, FRANCE - JULY 12: Mark Cavendish of Great Britain riding for Omega Pharma-Quick Step celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win stage thirteen of the 2013 Tour de France, a 173KM road stage from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond on July 12, 2013 in Saint-Amand-Montrond, France. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

  • CYCLING-FRA-TDF2013-PODIUM

    Stage winner Britain's Mark Cavendish celebrates on the podium after winning the 173 km thirteenth stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 12, 2013 between Tours and Saint-Amand-Montrond, central France. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CYCLING-FRA-TDF2013

    (From L) Overall leader's yellow jersey Britain's Christopher Froome, Britain's Mark Cavendish, and Best climber's polka dot jersey, France's Pierre Rolland ride during the 173 km thirteenth stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 12, 2013 between Tours and Saint-Amand-Montrond, central France. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)