Questions had been raised over the ManxmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s form after a disappointing effort in the previous dayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stage, where he was convincingly beaten to the line by Alessandro Petacchi.
But with HTC-Columbia teammate Mark Renshaw excelling as his lead-out man, Cavendish cruised to victory, his 11th in le Tour.
Green jersey holder and current incumbent Thor Hushovd remains 52 points clear of Cavendish, who is currently in 9th place, but the relief at only his 4th win of the season was clear.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is an incredible feeling. All that emotion and pressure that has built up all year has finally come to an end,Ã¢â‚¬Â said the 25-year-old.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That was bad luck but yesterday the team did amazingly well and I let them down massively at the end.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It has been hard this year and things haven’t really gone our way in the first few days of the Tour.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For sure we are going to try for other stages but thank God it paid off today.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It was another fairly relaxed day in the saddle for the General Classification contenders after the chaos of the opening three days.
Fabian Cancellara remains in the yellow jersey with BritainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Geraint Thomas in second place, 23 seconds behind.
FridayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stage is likely to provide another bunch sprint before the riders head into the Alps for the first mountain stage of this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tour on Saturday.
MORE: The latest football news
MORE: The latest tennis news
BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge