Another day, another victory for Marcel Kittel in the Tour de France. But this time, the German made his move nearly too late and edged Edvald Boasson Hagen, of Norway, only in a photo finish to win his third stage - and second in two days - yesterday.

Provisional results awarded Kittel the victory but the photo of the finish left room for questions.

Kittel seemed sure he won, holding up three fingers to celebrate his three stage wins.

"It was super, super close," Kittel said. "When there's a photo finish, you have your doubts. I was lucky."

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Three-time champion Chris Froome will wear the yellow jersey into the mountains this weekend.

"Nothing really big happened [yesterday]," Froome said. "The GC [general classification] riders are thinking of the mountains coming this weekend."

It was Kittel's 12th career win in the Tour, tying him with Erik Zabel for the German record.

Kittel clocked slightly more than five hours over the mostly flat 213.5km leg from Troyes in champagne country to Nuits-Saint-Georges in the heart of the Burgundy winemaking region. Michael Matthews, of Australia, crossed third.

Boasson Hagen took over the leadership duties at Team Dimension Data after Mark Cavendish abandoned the race with a broken shoulder this week. World champion Peter Sagan was disqualified for causing Cavendish's high-speed crash.

The victory helped Kittel take the green points jersey from French national champion Arnaud Demare.

Kittel is aiming to wear green all the way to the finish in Paris on July 23. Sagan won the green sprinting jersey in the past five Tours.

Froome remained 12 seconds ahead of Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas and 14 seconds ahead of Fabio Aru, of Italy.

Days like this look easy but are stressful, Froome said.

"Every kilometre, you think about what can happen that could change the race," Froome said. "If you turn left or right, or if there is wind. It was a day for staying in front."

The southeasterly route passed by the mustard capital of Dijon, then concluded with a circuit through picturesque vineyards of Burgundy.

Like in the other three sprinting stages, an early breakaway - this one featuring Manuele Mori, Yohann Gene, Dylan van Baarle and Maxime Bouet - was caught shortly before the finish.

Stage eight from Dole overnight finished at the Rousses ski station in the Jura Range, close to the border with Switzerland.

Three climbs on the 187.5km route served as a warm-up for the tough stage nine tonight.

Froome said: "It should be a big weekend of racing."

- AP