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VALENCE, France — André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) scored his third stage win of this year’s Tour de France on Sunday.
Despite sporting three stitches in his left knee from a crash on Saturday, the burly German fended off compatriot John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and green jersey Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) to win the 183km stage 15 from Mende to Valence.
The German never looked troubled as he launched his sprint some 250 meters out. Degenkolb was perfectly placed on his rear wheel with Kristoff in tow, but when they both darted out from behind the Lotto Soudal rider’s slipstream, neither had the strength to overhaul him.
“I’m really happy that I suffered so much today to be again on the finish line,” Greipel said. “I knew there was going to be a big headwind. I tried to not get boxed in, and when I saw the 250m I just went for it.”
Kristoff said Greipel and Degenkolb were too strong for him on Sunday.
“It was a bit of a headwind at the end. Greipel had a really good jump and I always struggle a bit when it’s like that, so at the end I had good top speed but I just wasn’t fast enough,” he said. “Today Greipel and Degenkolb were just stronger.”
Top 15, stage 15
- 1. André GREIPEL, LOTTO SOUDAL, in 3:56:35
- 2. John DEGENKOLB, TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN, at :00
- 3. Alexander KRISTOFF, TEAM KATUSHA, at :00
- 4. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF-SAXO, at :00
- 5. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, MTN-QHUBEKA, at :00
- 6. Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS, TEAM CANNONDALE-GARMIN, at :00
- 7. Christophe LAPORTE, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :00
- 8. Michael MATTHEWS, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :00
- 9. Davide CIMOLAI, LAMPRE-MERIDA, at :00
- 10. Florian VACHON, BRETAGNE-SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT, at :00
Top 10, GC
- 1. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, in 59:58:54
- 2. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 3:10
- 3. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC RACING TEAM, at 3:32
- 4. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 4:02
- 5. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF-SAXO, at 4:23
- 6. Geraint THOMAS, TEAM SKY, at 4:54
- 7. Robert GESINK, TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO, at 6:23
- 8. Vincenzo NIBALI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 8:17
- 9. Tony GALLOPIN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 8:23
- 10. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 8:53
Sagan, as ever, finished like a bullet but had started his sprint from too far back and trailed in fourth, although he kept hold of the green points jersey.
Having already won the second and fifth stages, Greipel, 32, matched his three stage wins from the 2012 edition, taking his total to nine. With the final stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris still to come, the “Gorilla from Rostock” could better that mark.
Chris Froome (Sky) finished safely in the peloton to maintain his overall lead ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team).
“It looked like a straightforward stage on paper, an easy day for us and a good day for the sprinters, but it wasn’t,” said Froome. “It was full gas all day. It didn’t stop. It ended up being a very tough stage.”
Froome said two of his teammates, Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte, were slightly under the weather with “a bit of a cold.”
“It’s not up to me to comment on their medical condition but they seem fine,” he added. “We’re still nine riders in the race, that’s a big credit to us. With over three minutes’ lead on GC I’m in a very privileged position.
“I’m looking forward to the rest day. There are five real stages left before the Champs-Elysées.”
Monday’s 16th stage takes the peloton over 201km from Bourg-dePéage to Gap, in the process traversing two category-2 ascents, the Col de Cabre and the Col de Manse.