(CNN)It's been a frustrating last week for the cyclists who rely on a sprint finish to win a stage of the Tour de France.
This year's edition has been packed with mountain stages and uphill finishes, leaving the likes of Andre Greipel to find a place in the aptly named 'grupetto' or autobus-- which is a group of riders who combine together to make sure they cross the line inside the time limit on such stages.
Sunday and the fast men got their chance on a flatter 183km 15th leg from Mende to Valence and Greipel held off a pack of them to register his third win of this year's Tour.
The Lotto-Soudal rider headed fellow German John Degenkolb with Norway's Alexander Kristoff in third place.
Peter Sagan kept the lead in the battle for the green jersey in fourth and was in an early breakaway which looked for a long while set to succeed.
Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey of overall race leader by finishing safely in the main bunch behind Greipel.
There was increased security around the Team Sky leader at the start of the stage in Mende after his claims the previous day that a spectator had called him a "doper" and thrown a cup of urine over him.
Froome leads by three minutes and 10 seconds from Nairo Quintana of Colombia, with a week to the finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris next Sunday.
That may well be the only chance for the likes of Greipel and Britain's Mark Cavendish to add to their impressive tally of stages wins.
Cavendish might have hoped to have added to his total of 26 Sunday, but the savage early pace saw him unable to keep up with the main bunch and he came in with a sizable group over 15 minutes down.
Greipel, nicknamed the 'Gorilla from Rostock' due to imposing build, was claiming his ninth stage win and also claimed a hat-trick of successes in the 2012 Tour.
He told the official Tour website that his earlier wins this year had boosted his morale.
"It helps to win at the beginning of the Tour. It has helped me this year for my confidence.
The next sprint will be on the Champs-Elysees 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," he added.