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Tour de France Stage 15: Greipel takes third win of this year's race in Valence

Lotto-Soudal sprinter beats Degenkolb and Kristoff to line, but Sagan seems to be heading for 4th green jersey

André Greipel of Lotto-Soudal has won his third stage of the 2015 Tour de France, beating fellow German John Degenkolb of Giant-Alpecin and Katusha’s Norwegian sprinter, Alexander Kristoff, in a closely fought finale to Stage 15 in Valence.

Peter Sagan of Tinkoff-Saxo finished the 183km stage from Valence in fourth place, and remains in the green jersey, while Team Sky’s Chris Froome was safely in the front group and retaining a solid overall lead ahead of the Alps as the 102nd edition of the Tour heads into its final week, with a medium mountains stage tomorrow ahead of Tuesday's rest day.

With today’s stage raced at an average speed of 45kph and representing the last opportunity for the sprinters ahead of the race's climax in PAris a week today, the break was kept on a tight leash.

The final escapees, Matteo Trentin of Ettix-Quick Step and Cannondale-Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal, were brought back with a little under 30km remaining as Europcar drove the pace at the front of the peloton.

The nine man front group they were in that had formed after the early Category 3 ascent of the Côte de Badaroux included Sagan, points classification leader and looking for a fourth successive green jersey.

Missing from the bunch that contested the sprint this afternoon though was the last man to win the green jersey before Sagan’s dominance began, Etixx-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish, who lost contact with the peloton on that first climb.

The Manxman spent the day in the autobus, the group comprised of riders looking to make it through the stage within the time limit.

Sagan himself was involved in one of today’s more dramatic moments when a mechanic from his Tinkoff-Saxo team launched a bidon, American football quarterback style, at a TV cameraman filming the Slovak rider changing bikes, but whose moto pilot appeared to get far too close to the rider as he stopped to capture the footage.

Stage winner of André Greipel of Lotto-Soudal

Hats off to Kathusha who worked all day. We did some work also at the end but I didn't know what to expect with the headwind. In the first 18km today, everything went through my mind, like making the time cut. There were 24 guys up the road and it was so hard. I've had to deal with a different set up today as my lead out men weren't with me [Greg Henderson pulled out and Marcel Sieberg was in the laughing group].

Jens Debusschere was my last man. We talked about the key point and he listened very well. Tim Wellens protected me from the wind all day. Lars Bak was in the breakaway. Adam Hansen was a great help, also Tony Gallopin even though he's high placed on GC. It was all about taking the right decisions at the end and having the power in the legs at the end.

Alexander Kristoff's wheel was the right one to follow. I accelerated when I saw the 250 metres mark. At 100 metres, I put my 11 cog on and I was pleased that my chain stayed there. Compared to previous years, all I get is more experience. I've worked for being more explosive but I don't know if I'm the fastest in this Tour.

I'm one of the fastest but other sprinters are also in good condition. It helps to win at the beginning of the Tour. It has helped me this year for my confidence. But all of my career, I've been fast and I've won races, even at the Tour de France. I don't become slower even when Marcel Kittel is not here.

The next sprint will be on the Champs-Elysées but next Sunday seems pretty far away when I see the amount of climbing that we'll have to do before getting there. So my next goal is the rest day.

Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan, leading the points classification

I went into the breakaway because I wanted to win the stage. But that's never an easy task. I felt good all day. I took a maximum of points in the intermediate sprint. After that, I wanted to insist. When we got caught by the bunch, I focused on the final sprint.

I changed bike to use my favorite one for the flat. But sprinting is a bit of a lottery. There was a head wind in the last three kilometres. I tried to get the best position but Greipel was again stronger than me today.

Race leader Chris Froome of Team Sky

It looked like a straightforward stage on paper, an easy day for us and a good day for the sprinters but it wasn't! It was full gas all day. It didn't stop. It ended up being a very tough stage.

My team-mates Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte have had a bit of a cold. It's not up to me to comment on their medical condition but they seem fine. 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. I'm very happy with the fantastic support I got from the crowd today.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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