Valence: Andre Greipel made it a hat-trick of Tour de France stage wins yesterday as he won the 183km 15th stanza from Mende to Valence.
Despite three stitches in his left knee from a crash on Saturday, the burly German fended off compatriot John Degenkolb, Norway's Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan in the sprint finish.
Briton Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton to maintain his overall lead ahead of Nairo Quintana. Before the 15th stage began, Briton Mark Cavendish, winner of the seventh stage in a sprint finish, had spoken of his desire to have a bunch finale.
And while he got his wish, the 30-year-old had been dropped within the first 10km on a tough uphill start. He was one of 23 riders to lose touch early on and they never managed to regain contact.
So when it came to the sprint finish, after a nine-man breakaway group was reeled in 30km before the finish, Greipel did not have his main challenger to contend with. "It was all about suffering from 10km in to the end. The team supported me to make it possible," said Greipel.